WHO warns of ‘lengthy’ pandemic as global COVID-19 cases cross 18 million

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The number of global COVID-19 infections surged past 18 million on Sunday, August 2, while the death toll has crossed 688,939, according to global trackers. 

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. The number of cases is now growing at an alarming rate as hard-hit countries ease lockdowns.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million.

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In emergency WHO committee reviewing the pandemic “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this Covid-19 pandemic”, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.

“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of Covid-19 to be very high,” it said in its latest statement. The agency also said the effects of the pandemic “will be felt for decades to come”.

Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest hit country in virus deaths – after Brazil and the United States – with more than 46,600 fatal cases.

The US, the hardest-hit country in the world, has now tallied more than 4.6 million cases and 154,319 deaths.

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The outlook was bleak in Asia as well, where India and the Philippines reported record increases in new daily infections.

Despite the resurgence in cases, there have been demonstrations in Europe against the curbs. Thousands protested in Berlin on Saturday urging “a day of freedom” from the restrictions, with some demonstrators dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.

The pandemic has also continued to cause mayhem in the travel and tourism sectors, with more airlines announcing mass job cuts.

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