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WHO hopes coronavirus pandemic can be over in two years

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Medical staff wearing PPE holding material in Melbourne, Australia (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Medical staff wearing PPE holding material in Melbourne, Australia (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Medical staff wearing PPE holding material in Melbourne, Australia (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization hopes the coronavirus crisis can be over in less than two years, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

The Spanish flu that hit in 1918 took two years to end, he said.

"Our situation now with more technology, of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast," he said.

"At the same time we have the technology and knowledge to stop it."

More than 22.81 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 793,382 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Meanwhile, the reproduction "R" number of COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom has risen and may now be above 1, the Government Office for Science said on Friday, indicating a risk that the overall epidemic is growing.

The UK R number is between 0.9 and 1.1, the government said, up from 0.8-1.0 last week. The daily growth rate for the UK as a whole is between -3% and 1%, up from -4% to -1%.

The R number represents the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

An R number above 1 can lead very rapidly to exponential growth, although the figures are driven by local outbreaks, and scientists have said that the estimates are less reliable when overall incidence of the virus is low.

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