Geneva: As the world continues to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday (May 14) warned that the virus “may never go away”.

“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, said during a virtual press conference in Geneva.

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“I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be,” he added.

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Michael Ryan

So far, 297,000 have lost their lives to the deadly virus. More than 4.35 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed around the world. Most of the countries have imposed lockdowns to fight the virus.

Meanwhile, WHO said people around the world are living longer and healthier lives but COVID-19 could threaten the progress.

“The good news is that people around the world are living longer and healthier lives. The bad news is the rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and will be further thrown off track by COVID-19,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“The pandemic highlights the urgent need for all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defense against outbreaks like COVID-19, and against the many other health threats that people around the world face every day. Health systems and health security are two sides of the same coin,” he added.

WHO’s World Health Statistics — an annual check-up on the world’s health — reports progress against a series of key health and health service indicators, revealing some important lessons in terms of progress made towards the Sustainable Development Goals and gaps to fill.

Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy have increased, but unequally.

The biggest gains were reported in low-income countries, which saw life expectancy rise 21% or 11 years between 2000 and 2016 (compared with an increase of 4% or 3 years in higher income countries).