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Expect ‘lengthy’ pandemic, warns WHO  

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The World Health Organisation 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.

Geneva: The World Health Organisation 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.

"WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high," it said.

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.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and long-term response efforts are needed given an anticipated lengthy duration of the pandemic, the WHO said.

The WHO Emergency Committee on COVID-19, convened by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus under the International Health Regulations (IHR), held its fourth meeting on Friday (July 31), WHO said in an online statement released on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The committee unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a PHEIC, and noted the importance of "sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts," said the statement.

Tedros had declared a PHEIC, WHO's highest level of alarm under IHR, on Jan. 30 at a time when there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside China. He issued the committee's advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR, according to the statement. "The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come," Tedros told the committee in his opening remarks on Friday.

"Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths. And some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control," Tedros said.

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