The warning from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus came after global Covid-19 cases topped 10 million and the death toll passed 500,000.
The head of the World Health Organization warned on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and devastated the world’s economy is far from over—just a day before the six-month mark of when China first alerted the United Nations agency about a cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.
“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.”
—Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO
“The six-month anniversary of the outbreak coincides with reaching 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press 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.”
After detailing the WHO’s efforts since December 2019 to help contain the virus, identify effective treatments, and develop a vaccine, Tedros explained that “some countries are now experiencing a resurgence of cases as they start to re-open their economies and societies.”
“Most people remain susceptible. The virus still has a lot of room to move,” the WHO chief continued. “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.”
“This is a time for renewing our commitment to empowering communities, suppressing transmission, saving lives, accelerating research, and political and moral leadership,” he added, summarizing top priorities for governments amid global efforts to develop a vaccine. “But it’s also a time for all countries to renew their commitment to universal health coverage as the cornerstone of social and economic development—and to building the safer, fairer, greener, more inclusive world we all want.”
“1⃣ empower communities
Every individual must understand that there are things everyone should do to protect themselves & others:
staying 🏠 if you feel sick
wearing 😷 when appropriate
sharing info from reliable sources”-@DrTedros
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 29, 2020
Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said during the briefing that while there has been progress on finding a vaccine to prevent infection, those efforts aren’t guaranteed to succeed, Reuters reported. Ryan urged countries to continue testing, isolating people with confirmed cases, and tracking their contacts. He specifically recognized the “comprehensive, sustained strategy” of Germany, Japan, and South Korea to combat the pandemic.
There were about 10.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 502,900 deaths globally as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. The United States leads the world at over 2.56 million infections and nearly 126,000 deaths—with Brazil as a distant second. The administrations of both U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have faced international criticism for how they have handled the public health crisis.
As Common Dreams reported Sunday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN that a national mandate requiring everyone to wear a mask in public is “definitely long overdue.” Pelosi, with a mask around her neck, specifically called on Trump to “be an example to the country, and wear the mask.”
“The President should be (an) example, real men wear masks, be an example to the country, and wear the mask,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as cases across the country spike from the coronavirus pandemic. https://t.co/5gOoWEOkSn
— CNN (@CNN) June 29, 2020
Pelosi suggested that the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends that everyone cover their face in public rather than requiring it because the agency did not want to “offend the president.” Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House Coronavirus Task Force, have repeatedly attended public events without wearing masks throughout the pandemic.
Asked during a Sunday appearance on CBS News why Trump won’t ask everyone to wear masks, Pence said that “we believe people should wear masks wherever… social distancing is not possible, wherever it’s indicated by either state or local authorities. And, you know, the president has worn a mask. I wore a mask on several occasions this week.”
On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden—who is expected to face off against Trump as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in November—said while wearing a mask during a television interview with a CNN affiliate in Pittsburgh that if elected, “I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the Sacramento Press Club last Wednesday that “everybody should wear a mask when out public.” Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, added: “It should not be a political issue… It is purely a public health issue.”
That same day, University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected that nearly 180,000 people in the United States could die because of Covid-19 by October 1—but that figure could drop to about 146,000 if at least 95% of people wore masks in public. As IHME director Dr. Christopher Murray put it: “People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”
Dr Birx proves that no amount of gushing compliments can compensate for even a little bit of honesty with Trump: op-ed
One of President Trump's top infectious disease experts, Dr. Deborah Birx, is known for avoiding Trump's wrath, but that changed when she recently decided to speak frankly on the growing spread of coronavirus across the country. While Trump walked back his public criticism of her, the dust shows that no amount of "gushing compliments or massaging statistics can compensate for even a little bit of honesty with this man," the Washington Post's Molly Roberts writes.
While Birx appeared to be in control of the facts when she first emerged as a figure on the coronavirus task force, she soon became someone Democrats couldn't trust.
Trump has now predicted COVID will ‘go away’ in each of the last seven months
President Donald Trump on Wednesday told "Fox & Friends" that the novel coronavirus "will go away, like things go away."
As Democratic political operative Daniel Wessel notes on Twitter, this is not the first time the president has made bold declarations about the virus disappearing.
Back in February, Trump said the virus "miraculously goes away," then said in March that "it'll go away," and then in April declared that "it's going away."
A third of Afghans estimated to have contracted virus: health ministry
Nearly a third of Afghanistan's population -- or 10 million people -- has been infected with the coronavirus, according to health ministry estimates published Wednesday.
The figure comes from a survey based on antibody tests on around 9,500 people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organization, health minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani said at a press briefing.
The survey estimated that 31.5 percent of the population had contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in Kabul where more than half of the city's five million population were thought to have been infected.