Expect ‘lengthy’ coronavirus pandemic, warns WHO chief Aug 02, 2020 0 379 12345 AFPGenevaThe World Health Organization on Saturday warned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.The committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic”, the WHO said in a statement, and warned of the risk of “response fatigue” given the socio-economic pressures on countries.The panel gathered on Friday for the fourth time over the coronavirus crisis, half a year on from its January 30 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) -- the WHO’s highest level of alarm.“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” said its latest statement.“The committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.” The novel coronavirus has killed at least 680,000 people and infected at least 17.6 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.Unsurprisingly, the panel, comprising 18 members and 12 advisers, unanimously agreed that the pandemic still constituted a PHEIC.Several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the spread of the respiratory disease, plunging economies into sharp contraction.The committee urged the WHO to provide nuanced, pragmatic guidance on COVID-19 reactions “to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.The panel urged the WHO to support countries in preparing for the rollout of proven therapeutics and vaccines.The committee also urged the agency to accelerate research into the remaining “critical unknowns” of the virus, such as the animal source and potential animal reservoirs. It called for improved understanding of the epidemiology and severity of COVID-19, including its long-term health effects.And the committee wanted more light shed on the dynamics of the virus, such as “modes of transmission, shedding, potential mutations; immunity and correlates of protection”.The near six-hour gathering was hosted at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, with some participants joining via video-link. The committee will reconvene in three months’ time.Going into the meeting, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic’s effects would be long-lasting.“It’s sobering to think that six months ago, when you recommended I declare a PHEIC, there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China,” he said on Friday. “The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.” The WHO has been sharply criticised for the length of time it took to declare an international emergency.The United States, which accused the organisation of being too close to China, officially began its withdrawal from the organisation in July. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES US official cautions over China, Russia virus vaccines as race heats up Aug 02, 2020 0 465 Thousands of ‘Covidiots’ protest in Berlin over virus restrictions Aug 02, 2020 0 667 Hurricane Isaias douses Bahamas, heads to virus-hit Florida Aug 02, 2020 0 1083 Japan’s Okinawa declares state of emergency as virus cases soar TOKYO: Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks as the popular tourist destination sees an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases. Governor Denny Tamaki on .. First US recipient of partial face transplant dead at 57 WASHINGTON: Connie Culp, the first US recipient of a partial face transplant, has died at age 57, according to Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, where she underwent the delicate operation nearly 12 years ago. The health centre .. UK seeks ‘tougher action’ from France on Channel migrants AFP London Britain on Saturday urged France to get tougher on stopping migrants using the Channel to reach the UK, with one minister saying the crossings were “unacceptably high”. The call came after Border Force figures .. Trump says fed agents to stay in Portland until police ‘cleanup’ AFP Washington US federal officers will stay in the protest-wracked city of Portland until local law enforcement officials finish a “cleanup of anarchists and agitators,” President Donald Trump said. The president .. South Korean sect leader arrested for hindering coronavirus efforts AFP Seoul The elderly leader of a secretive South Korean sect at the centre of the country’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested on Saturday for allegedly hindering the government’s effort to contain the epidemic. ..