WHO says pandemic ‘not even close’ to over as toll passes 500,000

by Robin Millard with AFP bureaus

The coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the WHO warned Monday, as the global death toll passed half a million and cases surged in Latin America and the United States.

In another grim milestone, the number of infections recorded worldwide topped 10 million, while some authorities reimposed lockdown measures that have crippled the economies worldwide.

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over,” he said, adding that “although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”

The virus emerged at least six months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in the search for its origin, Tedros said.

COVID-19 is still rampaging across the US, which has recorded more than 125,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases — both around a quarter of the global totals.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the April-June quarter was expected to see the largest decline in GDP on record, adding that recovery would depend on government efforts to contain the outbreak.

Many of the south and west US states where the virus is most rampant are where state leaders pushed for early reopenings.

But even in New York, deemed to be in good health comparatively, the iconic Broadway theatre district announced it would remain closed through the end of the year.

And with numerous US states forced to reimpose restrictions on restaurants, bars and beaches, President Donald Trump has come under growing pressure to set an example by wearing a mask.

Trump’s health secretary has warned the “window is closing” for the US to regain control, but the president has largely turned away from the crisis, holding indoor rallies with big, largely maskless crowds against the advice of his experts and refusing to cover his own face in public. (AFP)

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