WHO: Worst of pan­demic ‘yet to come’

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page -

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.

‘Pro­found shock’

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.

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