WHO hopes to end pandemic “in less than two years”

The World Health Organization hopes to end the COVID-19 pandemic “in less than two years” as many countries around the world face a surge in new cases, such as Lebanon which is re-fining.

“We hope to end this pandemic in less than two years. Especially if we can unite our efforts […] and by making maximum use of the tools available and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can put an end to it in a shorter timeframe than the (Spanish) flu of 1918 ”, said on Friday the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference.

The famous “Spanish flu” decimated 50 million people from 1918 to 1920, when malnutrition and tuberculosis made the population even more fragile.

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“In our current situation, […] the virus is more likely to spread, “said the WHO chief. “But we have the advantage of having better technologies […] And we know how to stop it. “

The WHO has also advocated “the wearing of masks for children aged 12 and over under the same conditions as adults.”

The head of the organization protested against corruption cases surrounding protective equipment (PPE) used in the fight against the pandemic.

“Corruption related to PPE is, to me, actually murder,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, when asked about one such case affecting power circles in South Africa. “If healthcare workers work without PPE, their lives are in danger. And it also endangers the lives of those they care for. So it’s criminal, and it’s murder. “

Rebound and containment

In Lebanon, which faces record rates of contamination and hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and those injured from the gigantic explosion of August 4 at the port of Beirut, a re-containment decreed by the authorities comes into force Friday until the 7th September. It has a daily curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. local time.

With at least 9,758 cases including 107 deaths, the country, whose economy has collapsed and some people are hungry, is “on the brink,” Health Minister Hamad Hassan has warned.

In Europe, the figures of new cases of contamination in 24 hours published on Friday in France, Italy, Germany or Spain are worrying and show a rebound in the pandemic, often in favor of holidays, parties and travel.

Spain, despite some of the strictest containment in the world, widespread mask wear and millions of tests, is once again among the most affected.

Already among the most bereaved countries (more than 28,800 dead), it is also the country of Western Europe which has the most diagnosed cases: nearly 378,000, and a contagion rate (143 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) far exceeding that of its neighbors.

The epidemic is also flaring in France, which has recorded even more deaths (more than 30,500 in total) and 4,586 new cases in the past 24 hours. As the start of the school year approaches, the government has made it compulsory to wear a mask in schools for those over 11, even when the rules of physical distancing can be respected.

In Switzerland, 300 new daily cases were recorded on Friday for the second time this week, a level not reached since mid-April, raising fears of a second wave.

In Britain, containment will be tightened in parts of north-west England, while Birmingham, the country’s second most populous city, has been placed under surveillance due to an upsurge in the virus.

In Italy, Venice is preparing to host the Mostra from September 2 to 12, the first major film festival since the start of the pandemic – and the oldest in the world – with many thermal scanners, disinfectant gel and compulsory mask everywhere.

Germany on Friday classified Brussels as a risk zone because of the high number of contaminations, as it has already done for almost all of Spain and part of the Croatian coast, very popular with German tourists.

Poverty surge

The epidemic has killed at least 793,847 people since the end of December, according to an AFP report on Friday from official sources. More than 22,734,900 cases of infection have been officially diagnosed in 196 countries and territories since the start of the epidemic, of which at least 14,298,000 are now considered cured.

The United States remains the most bereaved country with 174,290 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.

The WHO estimated on Friday that the pandemic in Brazil, the second-worst affected country in terms of death toll (over 111,100) and cases (over 3.45 million), appeared to be leveling off. Michael Ryan, the organization’s director of emergency situations, noted “a clear downward trend in many areas” of the country, while being cautious for the medium term.

The health crisis of COVID-19 and its procession of destroyed jobs and supply difficulties, could lead to extreme poverty 100 million additional people around the world, warned Thursday the President of the World Bank David Malpass, in an interview with AFP.

This situation makes it “imperative” for creditors to reduce the debt of poor countries, said David Malpass.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the pandemic is expected to push 45 million people back into poverty, bringing the total to 231 million, or 37.3 percent of the region’s population, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the United Nations. Caribbean (ECLAC).

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