Story at a glance
- WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday the coronavirus epicenter remains in the Americas where more than 50 percent of the world’s cases have been recorded.
- “Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros said.
- Nearly 13 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide with more than 570,000 deaths.
As coronavirus cases hit record levels over the weekend and deaths increased in a majority of U.S. states, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned the pandemic is worsening and there will be “no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while several countries in Europe and Asia have been able to bring outbreaks under control, there is a lot to be concerned about if leaders fail to take the steps needed to curb the transmission of the virus.
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“In several countries across the world, we are now seeing dangerous increases in COVID-19 cases, and hospital wards filling up again. It would appear that many countries are losing gains made as proven measures to reduce risk are not implemented or followed,” Tedros said during a virtual news conference in Geneva Monday.
“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction. The virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros said. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go. It is going to get worse and worse and worse.”
Tedros, however, said there is a roadmap to a "situation where we can control the disease and get on with our lives."
"We need to reach a sustainable situation where we do have adequate control of this virus without shutting down our lives entirely, or lurching from lockdown to lockdown," He said.
Tedros said to get to this place there needs to be a focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission, an empowered and engaged community that takes individual measures to protect the community and strong government leadership and communication.
WHO reported more than 230,000 infections globally Sunday, setting a record for new infections reported in one day.
Tedros said nearly 80 percent of those cases were reported from just 10 countries, and 50 percent from just two countries. Both the U.S. and Brazil lead the world in the number of cases and deaths.
Tedros criticized political leaders, without naming any specifically, saying “mixed messages” from leaders are “undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust.”
WHO has been criticized by the Trump Administration for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak early on and alleged bias toward China. The White House last week submitted its withdrawal notification to exit the health body to the United Nations (UN) secretary-general. Tedros said WHO had not received formal notification of the U.S. pullout.
Nearly 13 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide with more than 570,000 deaths. The U.S. leads the world with more than 3.3 million cases and more than 135,000 deaths.
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