Geneva, Switzerland: The new coronavirus may never go away and populations around the world will have to learn to live with it, the World Health Organization warned Wednesday.
As some countries around the world begin gradually easing lockdown restrictions imposed in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, the WHO said it may never be wiped out entirely.
The virus first emerged in Wuhan in China late last year and has since infected more than 4.2 million people and killed nearly 300,000 worldwide.
“We have a new virus entering the human population for the first time and therefore it is very hard to predict when we will prevail over it,” said Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director.
“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away,” he told a virtual press conference in Geneva.
“HIV has not gone away — but we have come to terms with the virus.”
More than half of humanity has been put under some form of lockdown since the coronavirus crisis began.
But the WHO warned there was no way to guarantee that easing the restrictions would not trigger a second wave of infections.
“Many countries would like to get out of the different measures,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“But our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible.”