Story at a glance

  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the pandemic has altered human life permanently.
  • Other experts note that it isn't too late for countries like the U.S. to change course.

Discussing the state of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that the world won’t be returning to the “old normal” as the pandemic still rages in the U.S. and other nations. 

CNBC reports that half of all coronavirus cases reported thus far are from either the U.S., Brazil or India, the top three countries with the most coronavirus infections, according to Johns Hopkins data

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters during a press conference in Geneva that “It’s completely understandable that people want to get on with their lives, but we will not be going back to the old normal.”

This comes as the U.S. reached 4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and continues to add more. Brazil is reporting about 2.2 million confirmed infections, and India trails the top three with 1.2 million confirmed cases. 

Following these countries are Russia, with more than 793,000 cases, South Africa with 394,948 cases and Peru with 366,550. 

Countries comparable to the U.S. in terms of infrastructure and wealth, such as the United Kingdom, France and Canada, have less than half a million cases each, and their epidemiological curves that track the virus spread are showing signs of a plateau. At the same time, the U.S.’s is consistently demonstrating an upward trajectory. 

Despite the overwhelming failures in the U.S. to contain the virus’s spread, Maria Van Kerkhove, the head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, reportedly said that it is possible to improve. 

“It can be turned around and there are tools that all countries have that can do that,” she said according to CNBC. “It takes tremendous will, it takes tremendous leadership and the work of all people to be part of the solution.”

Adhanom Ghebreyesus advised the continued practice of public health protocols like wearing masks and washing hands, noting that these actions on part of individuals can change the direction of the pandemic. 

“Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction,” he said on July 13. “The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this.”

He further called on the global public to make smart decisions that will reduce the spread of the virus. 

“Just because cases may be at a low level where you live, that doesn’t make it safe to lower your guard,” he added. “Don’t expect someone else to keep you safe. We all have a part to play in protecting ourselves and one another.”

Published on Jul 23, 2020