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WORLD | 22-06-2020 17:42

WHO chief: Coronavirus pandemic still accelerating

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual health forum organised by Dubai authorities that the greatest threat facing the world is not the virus itself, but "the lack of global solidarity and global leadership". 

The novel coronavirus pandemic is still accelerating and its effects will be felt for decades, the World Health Organisation's director-general told an online conference on Monday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual health forum organised by Dubai authorities that the greatest threat facing the world is not the virus itself, but "the lack of global solidarity and global leadership". 

"We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world," he said. 

"The politicisation of the pandemic has exacerbated it. None of us is safe until all of us are safe."

The WHO warned last week of a new and dangerous phase of the coronavirus pandemic, with people tiring of lockdowns despite the disease's rapid spread.

The Covid-19 illness, which has now killed more than 465,000 people and infected almost nine million worldwide, is surging in the Americas and parts of Asia, even as Europe starts to ease restrictive measures. 

Lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the virus have caused crippling economic damage, but the WHO says the pandemic still poses a major threat. 

"The pandemic is still accelerating," Tedros told the virtual conference.

"We know that the pandemic is much more than a health crisis, it is an economic crisis, a social crisis, and in many countries a political crisis," he said.

"Its effects will be felt for decades to come."

A vaccine remains months off at best despite several trials, while scientists are still discovering more about the virus, its symptoms and the extent to which it may have spread before being identified.

Brazil hits new high

In spite of numerous European countries further easing their lockdown restrictions, cases around the world are rising especially in Latin America with Brazil now registering over 50,000 deaths. 

Brazil is now the second worst-affected country behind the United States, another country where political infighting has prevented a unified policy to handle the virus. 

The spread of Covid-19 is accelerating across Latin America, with Mexico, Peru and Chile also hard-hit as death tolls soar and healthcare facilities are pushed toward collapse.

Mexico City has delayed reopening markets, restaurants, malls, hotels and places of worship, with the country now recording over 20,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Highlighting the region's woes, Peru passed 8,000 deaths on Sunday despite preparing to reopen shopping malls on Monday.

Argentina recorded its 1,000th death from the virus on Sunday.

– TIMES/AFP

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