THE World Health Organisation has warned that the worst of the coronavirus is “still to come” as global deaths passed the 500,000 mark yesterday.
The organisation’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday that the pandemic was “speeding up” across the world – despite the significant progress made in containing the deadly bug.
The stark warning comes as countries across the world emerge from months of lockdown, and are battling to prevent a second wave of infections.
He told a virtual briefing: “Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world — and our lives — would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus.
“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 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
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros added that “we’re all in this for the long haul.”
It comes as the organisation is set to send a team of experts to China, amidst ongoing questions about the country’s handling of the outbreak in its earliest stage.
The coronavirus is believed to originate in the ‘wet markets’ of central Chinese city Wuhan, although the government has faced accusations of covering up vital information after denying WHO experts an opportunity to investigate the animal origins of the virus.
Tedros said he hopes that the team’s findings will help the world to “fight the virus better” and lead to a better understanding of its mysterious origin.
SECOND WAVE FEARS
The WHO chief’s warning comes as many countries across the world are bracing for a second wave of infections.
Beijing was forced to reimpose lockdown restrictions earlier this month following a spike in cases linked to a seafood market.
Schools and shops were shut again and hundreds of thousands of citizens tested in the Chinese capital after 106 cases were recorded in the city between June 11 and 16.
Large regions of Australia’s second most populous state Victoria are also back in lockdown after a cluster of cases were linked to the suburbs of Melbourne.
Meanwhile, many states in the US are seeing an unprecedented surge in infections following the relaxation of restrictions.
Texas governor Greg abbott has closed restaurants and bars across the state after the country saw a record rise in cases of 5,996 and 4,739 hospitalisations last Thursday.
Florida has also reversed its reopening, after a staggering 8,500 cases were reported in a single day.
Meanwhile in Europe, health authorities in Germany have been able to control new clusters of infection successfully through contact tracing measures.
Most of the country’s new infections have been linked to meat processing factories.