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The World Health Organisation chief hopes the coronavirus pandemic will end in less than two years.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the prediction today.
He said: "Our situation now with more technology, of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast.
"At the same time we have the technology and knowledge to stop it."
The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 took two years to end, he said.
More than 22.81 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 793,382 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
While some countries have managed to reduce transmission of COVID-19, Dr Tedros warned that "progress does not mean victory".
He referenced several countries which had experienced new outbreaks, saying: "These countries are a cautionary tale for those that are now seeing a downward trend in cases.”
It comes after tighter social distancing restrictions were announced in Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn in northern England to curb the virus’ spread.
From Saturday, residents will not be able to socialise with anyone from outside their household.
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Birmingham has also been added to this week’s watchlist as an “area of enhanced support”.
The city will receive extra resources for additional testing and contact tracing.
Northampton has also become an “area of intervention”, putting it in the highest risk category.
Coronavirus cases appear to be spiralling in France, with fresh data showing 4,771 new infections compared to 3,776 only on Wednesday.
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Worrying spikes have also been reported in other European countries including Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Croatia.
French officials say the virus is now mostly circulating in major cities among the young, who typically do not have serious symptoms.
Meanwhile, Spain, Germany and Italy have also recorded their highest numbers of cases since late April or May.
The government last night announced that people arriving in the UK from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will have to quarantine for 14 days from Saturday.
- World Health Organisation
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