Virus effects to last decades, WHO says six months on

World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic effects would be felt for decades as its crisis committee assessed the condition six months after sounding its top alarm over the outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already killed nearly 675,000 people and affected at least 17.3 million since it appeared in China last December of 2019, according to a tally from official sources.

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The WHO’s emergency committee, including 18 members and 12 advisers, is meeting for the fourth time over the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s sobering to think that six months ago when you recommended I declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China.” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced as the meeting began.

“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come.” The committee can propose new recommendations or amend existing ones.

However, there is little uncertainty that the World Health Organization will maintain the pandemic’s status as a PHEIC — its highest level of alarm — first declared on January 30.

The WHO has been sharply criticized for the length of time it took to declare an international emergency. The US, which accused the organization of being too close to China, formally began its withdrawal from the organization in July.

The agency has also been criticized for recommendations deemed late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.

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