WHO: Worst of pandemic ‘yet to come’
GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Six months since the new coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic is still far from over, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday, warning that “the worst is yet to come.”
Reaching the half-year milestone just as the death toll surpassed 500,000 and the number of confirmed infections topped 10 million, the WHO said it was a moment to recommit to the fight to save lives.
“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would
be thrown into turmoil by this new virus,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.
“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.
“We’re all in this together, and we’re all in this for the long haul.
“We will need even greater stores of resilience, patience, humility and generosity in the months ahead.
“We have already lost so much – but we cannot lose hope.”
Tedros also said that the pandemic had brought out the best and worst in humanity, citing acts of kindness and solidarity, but also misinformation and the politicization of the virus.
In an atmosphere of global political division and fractures on a national level, “the worst is yet to come. I’m sorry to say that,” he said.
“With this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”
Global death toll passed half a million and cases surged in Latin America and the United States.
In another grim milestone, the number of infections recorded worldwide topped 10 million, while some authorities reimposed lockdown measures that have crippled the economies worldwide.
The virus emerged at least six months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in the search for its origin, Tedros said.
COVID-19 is still rampaging across the US, which has recorded more than 125,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases – both around a quarter of the global totals.
Many of the south and west US states where the virus is most rampant are where state leaders pushed for early reopening.
But even in New York, deemed to be in good health comparatively, the iconic Broadway theatre district announced it would remain closed through the end of the year.
And while opposition Democrats
have urged Trump to reissue an emergency declaration on coronavirus, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president had “no interest” in doing so.
However, he may not be able to avoid masks forever – the Florida city of Jacksonville, where Trump’s Republicans are due to hold their national convention in August, declared face masks mandatory on Monday.
The second hardest-hit country Brazil registered 259,105 infections in the seven days through Sunday – the country’s highest of any week during the pandemic.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country had gone through a “profound shock” as he prepared to unveil a large stimulus program.
His government plans to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across England on July 4, but on Monday ordered schools and nonessential shops in Leicester, central England, to close after a localized outbreak.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron called for a “strong” and “efficient” recovery
fund for the European Union.
In Merkel’s Germany, which has been praised for how it has tackled its COVID19 outbreak, the North Rhine-Westphalia state extended a lockdown on a district hit hard by a slaughterhouse outbreak.
In neighboring Switzerland, organizers said that 2021’s Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled, after already scrapping this year’s event.
China has imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people in a province
surrounding Beijing to contain a fresh cluster.
The Middle East’s most affected country Iran reported 162 more deaths on Monday, its highest single-day toll yet, a day after it also made mask-wearing mandatory for inside gatherings.
India, which is gradually easing a nationwide lockdown, registered a daily record of 18,500 new cases and 385 new deaths on Saturday.