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WHO hopes to end Covid-19 pandemic in 'less than two years'

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FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020 file photo medical workers wearing protective gear collect swabs from a passenger arriving from one of four Mediterranean countries.
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2020 file photo medical workers wearing protective gear collect swabs from a passenger arriving from one of four Mediterranean countries.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
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The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that it hopes the Covid-19 pandemic will last less than the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which in two years killed tens of millions of people.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference that this goal would be possible if the "we can unite our efforts" and make the most of the available tools, among them vaccines.

The famous "Spanish flu" killed 50 million people from 1918 to 1920 when malnutrition and tuberculosis made the population all the more fragile.

Unlike the new coronavirus, the Spanish flu had particularly hit the youngest.

"In our current situation, [...] the virus is more likely to spread. It can move quickly because we are more connected now," Ghebreyesus said.

"So we have a disadvantage linked to globalization [..] But we have the advantage of having better technologies," he said. "And we know how to stop it."

New recommendation for children above twelve

On Friday, WHO also released new recommendations among them one for children aged twelve and above. According to WHO, they should wear protective face masks under the same conditions as adults to fight the pandemic.

This should especially the case "when they cannot guarantee a distance of at least one meter from others and whether the transmission is generalized in the area concerned ".

Children aged five and younger should not be required to wear a mask. "This recommendation is based on the safety and overall interest of the child, and on his ability to use a mask correctly with minimal assistance," said WHO.

As for six to eleven-year-olds, WHO recommends that the decision to use a mask be based on a series of factors, including the level of transmission of the virus in the area where the child lives and their ability to use a mask correctly and safely.

Access to masks, as well as the possibility of washing or replacing them in certain settings such as schools, adequate adult supervision and instructions given to the child on how to wear them, should also be considered.

"Corruption related to PPE is, for me, actually murder"

Ghebreyesus also made a statement with regards to possible corruption cases in the areas of personal protective equipment (PPE), necessary for the fight against the pandemic.

"Corruption related to PPE is, for me, actually murder," he said when asked about a case in South Africa. "If healthcare workers work without PPE their lives are in danger. And that also endangers the lives of the people they care for. So it's criminal, and it's murder."

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