Parts of Europe moved cautiously to reopen their streets and economies on Thursday but the coronavirus pandemic was far from beaten and the World Health Organization warned the continent was still in the “eye of the storm”.

Since emerging in China late last year, the virus has turned the world upside down, killing tens of thousands, forcing half of humanity indoors and raising the spectre of a second Great Depression.

Hope that its spread has peaked in Europe and the United States has seen some countries take tentative steps to ease restrictions, with US President Donald Trump set to unveil plans on Thursday for lifting lockdowns across the world’s top economy.

AFP / Simon MALFATTOGlobal spread of the coronavirus

But with global cases and deaths still growing — and fears of a second wave of infections in previously hit countries — officials are warning that life around the world will not be returning to normal until a vaccine is available.

“We remain in the eye of the storm,” the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said in an online news conference from Copenhagen.