Coronavirus: Worst yet to come – WHO

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The worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘yet to come’, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

WHO director Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus claimed the spread of the virus was actually speeding up, despite lockdowns being loosened around the world.

He said countries like South Korea, China, Germany, Singapore and Japan had shown there is a blueprint to suppressing the disease.

On top of robust contact tracing schemes, these nations have also delegated testing responsibilities to local public health teams and given regional leaders the power to enforce regional lockdowns.

But, in a thinly-veiled jab seemingly targeted at the US and UK, Dr Tedros claimed many nations were not using ‘the tools that we have at hand’, Daily Mail reports.

Earlier this month the WHO urged Britain not to lift lockdown until its test and trace system was up to scratch, after it emerged a third of patients were being missed.

The UK Government has been criticised for its top-down response to the outbreak and refusal to give responsibilities to local public health bodies.

During a virtual news conference from the WHO’s Geneva headquarters yesterday, Dr Tedros said: ‘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 that this is not even close to being over.

‘Some countries have now experienced a resurgence of cases as they start to reopen their economies and societies. Most people remain susceptible. The virus still has a lot of room to move.

The worst is yet to come. I’m sorry to say that, but with this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.’

He added: ‘And that’s why we have to bring our acts together and fight this dangerous virus together.

‘The single most important intervention for breaking chains of transmission is not necessarily high-tech and can be carried out by a broad range of profession. It’s tracing and quarantine contacts.

‘Six months since the virus started, it could be like a broken record to say exactly the same thing, but the same thing works. Test, test, isolate, quarantine cases.’

Covid-19 has now infected more than 10million people globally and killed more than 502,000.

The US leads with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world with over 2.5million infections.

Following behind is Brazil with over 1.3million cases and Russia with over 633,000 cases.

India has the fourth highest number of infections with over 528,000 reported and the UK has the fifth highest with more than 312,000 cases.

The US also leads with the highest number of Covid-19 deaths with 125,747. About one in four of global virus deaths – more than 125,000 – have been reported in the US.

Brazil follows behind with over 57,000 deaths reported and the UK with nearly 44,000 deaths reported.

While the overall rate of death has flattened in recent weeks, health experts are now worried about record numbers of new cases in the US, India and Brazil.

More than 4,700 people are dying every 24 hours from Covid-19-linked illness, according to calculations based on an average from June 1 to 27. That equates to 196 people per hour, or one person every 18 seconds.

Brazil, Russia and India, which seemed to be spared disaster in the outbreak’s early days, are all now at the mercy of the fast-spreading virus and have seen cases spiral out of control in recent weeks.

In Brazil and India cases have tripled in a month. Brazil, a South American country home to 210million people, is now experiencing arguably the worst outbreak in the world after the total number of people to have had Covid-19 rocketed from 411,821 on May 28 to more than 1.31million on Sunday.

In India, cases soared from 158,333 a month ago to 528,859 today, according to the Our World in Data project.

Meanwhile, more than 60 per cent of daily new cases came from countries in the Americas on Sunday, according to data published by the WHO.

More than a third of 190,000 new infections on Sunday occurred in Brazil and a fifth of them were in the US.

Tedros said some governments should consider replicating South Korea’s strategy for testing, contact tracing and isolating infected people.

He added that governments should involve the community in any efforts to ramp up testing, tracing and isolating.

Dr Tedros praised Japan for managing to have one of the lowest death rates in the world despite having one of the oldest populations of any nation.

The virus has infected more than 18,476 people in Japan, but has killed less than 1,000 people.

He also praised South Korea, another one of the first countries outside of China to be hit by the disease.

The Government there already had experience of shutting down outbreaks following the SARS epidemic in 2002 so was much better equipped than most of the West.

It used credit card transaction data and cell phone tracking information to identify who might have been exposed to the virus and tracked down the vast majority of cases and forced them to isolate.