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The World Health Organisation warned of a “new and dangerous phase” of the coronavirus pandemic with people complaining about the lengthy lockdowns despite the disease’s accelerating spread.The warning came as it emerged that the virus was present in Italy in December, months before its first confirmed cases and about the same time as the disease was first reported in China.
The virus, which has now killed more than 4,54,000 people and infected 8.4 million people worldwide, is surging in the Americas and parts of Asia even as Europe starts to ease restrictive measures.
“The world is in a new and dangerous phase. Many people are understandably fed up with being at home… but the virus is still spreading fast,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. He also said that lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the disease have caused crippling economic damage, but the pandemic still poses a greater threat.
A vaccine remains a distant dream as scientists are still discovering more about the virus, its symptoms and the extent to which it may have spread. Italian researchers discovered genetic traces of SARS-CoV-2 – as the virus is officially known – samples of waste water collected in Milan and Turin at the end of last year and Bologna in January, Bologna in January,the ISSNational Health institute said. That was two months before the first Covid-19 cases were detected in Italy.
The ISS researchers said that the results help to understand the origin of the virus in Italy. Italy was the first European country to be hit by the virus.

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