The World Health Organization warns that the new coronavirus may never go away like HIV/AIDS and populations around the world will have to learn to live with it.
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 WHO warned there was no way to guarantee that easing the restrictions would not trigger a second wave of infections.
Ryan added that there was a “long, long way to go” on the path to returning to normal, insisting that countries would have to stay the course.
Ryan also condemned attacks on healthcare workers that were linked to the pandemic, saying more than 35 “quite serious” such incidents were recorded in April alone in 11 countries.
He said the attacks were often over-reactions from ill-informed communities — while others were more sinister.