The World Health Organization on Wednesday said the novel coronavirus “may never go away” and that people will have to learn to live with it. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has infected a total of 43.47 lakh people in the world and 2.97 lakh patients have died.

“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away,” Michael Ryan, the world body’s emergencies director, said at a virtual media briefing in Geneva. “HIV has not gone away – but we have come to terms with the virus...we have found therapies and we have found the prevention methods and people don’t feel as scared as they did before.”

Ryan added that it was difficult to foresee when we will be able to prevail over the virus as it was the first time that “a new virus” has entered the human population.

Most countries imposed some form of lockdown to contain the spread of infection, with some of them gradually relaxing restrictions recently. However, the WHO has cautioned that there was no way to guarantee that easing the curbs would not lead to a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

“Many countries would like to get out of the different measures,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible.”

Ryan said there was still some time before normalcy returns, adding there was “some magical thinking” that lockdowns work perfectly and that “unlocking lockdowns will go great”.

The WHO emergencies director also condemned the attacks on healthcare workers, saying over 35 “quite serious” episodes were recorded in April in 11 countries. “Covid-19 is bringing out the best in us, but it’s also bringing out some of the worst,” he added. “People feel empowered to take out their frustrations on individuals who are purely trying to help. These are senseless acts of violence and discrimination that must be resisted.”

In India, there have been instances of attacks on healthcare workers, police personnel and those attempting to carry out the last rites of Covid-19 patients.

On April 28, residents of a village in Haryana’s Ambala city clashed with the police and pelted stones at doctors after refusing to allow the cremation of a Covid-19 suspect. On April 22, three people in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district attacked a doctor and a policeman on Wednesday when they went to Gaswani village to screen a patient for the coronavirus infection. The National Security Act was invoked against the accused. On April 19, a mob in Chennai attacked a group, including doctors, during the burial of a neurosurgeon who had tested positive for Covid-19.

The Indian government on April 22 brought in an ordinance to make attacks on healthcare professionals, deployed on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a non-bailable offence. The new law will carry an imprisonment from six months to seven years and a compensation for the victims.