WHO: There Will Be No Return to Normal in the ‘Foreseeable Future’

The World Health Organization also discussed reopening schools and how long antibodies could last. By Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder, Staff Writer July 13, 2020

Health workers wearing protective equipment, July 12, 2020, in La Paz, Bolivia.(GASTON BRITO/GETTY IMAGES)THE WORLD HEALTH Organization on Monday warned that there will be no return to normal in the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus pandemic. "I want to be straight with you: There will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference. If the public doesn't follow public health advice like wearing masks, the outbreak is "going to get worse and worse and worse," Tedros continued. Cartoons on the Coronavirus "Let me be blunt: Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction," Tedros said. "The virus remains public enemy No. 1, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this." He added that the Americas remains the epicenter of the outbreak, reporting over half of the world's infections.

And those who have been infected might not be immune to the virus for more than a few months, Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit said, citing studies. She acknowledged that coronavirus patients "do mount some level of an immune response" but added that "what we don't know is how strong that protection is and for how long that protection will last."

The globe is approaching 13 million cases of the virus. More than 570,000 deaths have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. The officials also weighed in on the debate about sending children back to school in the fall, which President Donald Trump has said has to happen in the U.S.

Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said he is concerned that schools are being used as a "political football." "We can't turn schools into yet another political football in this game," Ryan said. "It's not fair to our children." [ READ: WHO Acknowledges Virus Can Be Airborne Indoors ] He said decisions to reopen schools should come when community transmission of the virus is low. Ryan added that children are indeed part of the virus' transmission cycle, saying "they will be exposed, some will be infected and they may infect others." He added that the long-term effects of the virus on children is not known.

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