Now is not the time to become complacent and drop our guard about the coronavirus as the pandemic is still growing globally, World Health Organization officials have warned.
Despite some improvements in infection rates in Europe, the global Covid-19 situation is “worsening” yet again, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday during an online press briefing. Sunday, June 7, had most reported cases in a single day so far of the outbreak, he added.
According to Tedros, active surveillance and contact tracing are still essential to ensure the virus doesn’t rebound. “More than six months into the pandemic this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” he warned.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 8, 2020
The alarming comments by Tedros come as many countries are lifting their Covid-19 lockdowns after reporting success in containing the spread of disease. Businesses are reopening and people are starting to return to offices, with timelines for the resumption of international air travel also being announced.
But the WHO has been warning that easing restrictions will inevitably lead to a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus, with the disease making a comeback in a different part of the population after an initial decline in cases.
There are fears that this ‘second wave’ could even be accelerated by the ongoing protests over the death of African American man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Major rallies against police brutality, some of which turned violent, are still being held in many of America’s largest cities and European capitals, with the participants gathering in large numbers and mostly ignoring Covid-19 self-distancing rules.
Worldwide, more than 7 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 403,000 have died since the pandemic was first reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019. The US remains the worst-hit country with almost 2 million confirmed cases and a death toll of over 110,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It’s followed by Brazil which has more than 691,000 infections and some 36,400 fatalities. Russia, which has been one of the world leaders in Covid-19 testing, has recorded 476,000 confirmed cases, with almost 6,000 people succumbing to the disease.
The WHO has been heavily criticized over its initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UN health agency held off calling the spreading coronavirus a “pandemic,” despite it being found in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, until March, 11.