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WHO urges caution over return to normality

A closed sign is seen at Surfers Paradise business on the Gold Coast, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The coronavirus has thrown small businesses into crisis, with many owners sending workers home as customers vanish. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

A closed sign is seen at Surfers Paradise business on the Gold Coast, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The World Health Organisation has once more advised extreme caution in easing strict measures put in place across the globe to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"Now is the time for vigilance. Now is the time to be very, very careful," WHO expert Michael Ryan said in Geneva on Monday.

Anyone taking the first steps back to normality must meet several conditions, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

These include at the minimum the ability to quickly identify and isolate infected people.

Tedros warned that although the coronavirus spreads quickly, it retreats very slowly.

According to Tedros, the virus is 10 times deadlier than the H1N1 swine flu which struck in 2009. People would have to change their behaviour and live with social distancing for the foreseeable future, he said.

The WHO was reticent on questions over whether people who had been infected once would develop an immunity against re-infection.

There was still far too little data give a definitive answer, WHO officials said.

At present, it is assumed that people who are infected will have protection at least for a certain period of time. However, it was unclear how long this period would be.

There have been reports about recovered patients in South Korea being re-infected with the virus.

© DPA 2020

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