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Pandemic could be ended in less than two years, says WHO

The prediction comes amid a spike in cases across Europe.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE WORLD SHOULD be able to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in less than two years, the World Health Organization said today, as European nations battled rising numbers of new cases.

Western Europe has been enduring the kind of infection levels not seen in many months, particularly in Germany, France, Spain and Italy – sparking fears of a ‘second wave’.

In Madrid, officials recommended people in the most affected areas stay at home to help curb the spread as the country registered more than 8,000 new cases in 24 hours.

France also reported a second consecutive day of more than 4,000 new cases – numbers not seen since May.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today sought to draw favourable comparisons with the flu pandemic of 1918.

“We have a disadvantage of globalisation, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” he told reporters.

By “utilising the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu”, he said.

The WHO also recommended children over 12-years-old now use masks in the same situations as adults as the use of face coverings increases to stop the virus spread.

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With no usable vaccine yet available, the most prominent tool governments have at their disposal is to confine their populations or enforce social distancing.

In Ireland, health officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the growing number of cases here. 

Today, 79 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the Department of Health, while the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that Kildare would remain in a lockdown-state for another two weeks in a bid to suppress the virus. 

With reporting by Dominic McGrath

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