There will be 'no return to the old normal for foreseeable future': International health expert
Coronavirus Brazil (Nelson Almeida:AFP)

"If the basics aren't followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It's going to get worse and worse and worse."

The head of the World Health Organization warned Monday that a "return to the 'old normal'" was not in "the foreseeable future" and urged global leaders to act cooperatively to control the coronavirus pandemic.

"Let me blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing.

Tedros's remarks came as the total number of total coronavirus cases continued ticking upward, nearing 13 million globally. More than 570,000 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded worldwide, over 134,000 of which were in the United States.

The U.S.—which has the highest number of cases in the world—recorded over 3.2 million cases as of Monday, an increase of over 60,000 Sunday. Infections continue to rise in dozens of U.S. states including Florida, which on Sunday broke the national record for the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases with over 15,000.

The WHO chief didn't single out the U.S. in his comments but noted, "The epicentre of the virus remains in the Americas, where more than 50% of the world's cases have been recorded."

The trajectory of the pandemic if governments fail to "roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives" and individuals don't take public health measures like wearing masks is clear, said Tedros.

"If the basics aren't followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go," Tedros said. "It's going to get worse and worse and worse."

"I want to be straight with you," he continued, "there will be no return to the 'old normal' for the foreseeable future."

But, he stressed, "it is never too late to take decisive action."

Tedros said governments must take out "all the tools we have to bring this pandemic under control" and act to "accelerate the science as quickly as possible."

The White House, meanwhile, continues to downplay the threat of the pandemic and discredit statements made by the nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly bashed the WHO throughout the pandemic and announced last week that the U.S. is formally withdrawing from the global health body.