Healthcare

WHO: Countries with falling COVID-19 numbers still need to be 'vigilant'

A World Health Organization (WHO) leader said Friday that countries that are experiencing decreasing COVID-19 numbers still need to be "vigilant" in case of surges. 

WHO's technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove made the comment during a virtual briefing as European countries are seeing their new cases slow down after instituting stricter coronavirus restrictions, although hospitals and intensive care units remain full.

"Even as case numbers are coming down, all countries need to remain vigilant," she said. "Do not let your guard down. It is good to see the measures taking effect and transmission going down, but it is not time to let up. And it's time to even scale up."

Van Kerkhove encouraged all nations to "scale up" their coronavirus testing to prepare for any future outbreaks.

"What we don't want to see is situations where you are moving from so-called lockdown to bringing the virus under control to moving to a so-called another lockdown," she said. 

"There is no reason to have another wave or another surge," she continued. "It is within our power to be able to keep transmission low, and we've seen dozens of countries show us that it can be brought under control, and it can stay under control."

Worldwide, more than 61.2 million COVID-19 cases have been identified, leading to more than 1.4 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. in particular has confirmed more than 12.9 million cases and 263,755 fatalities. 

WHO has cautioned that the potentially forthcoming coronavirus vaccine, which could be approved for the U.S. in mid-December, will not assist in alleviating the current waves hitting countries, CNBC noted.

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