“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has told a virtual briefing from the UN agency’s headquarters in Geneva.
“If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go – it is going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way.”
Global infections stand at 13 million, according to a Reuters tally, with more than half a million deaths.
Tedros, whose leadership has been heavily criticised by US President Donald Trump, said that of 230,000 new cases on Sunday, 80 per cent were from 10 nations, and 50 per cent from just two countries.
The United States and Brazil are the countries worst hit.
“There will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future … There is a lot to be concerned about,” Tedros added on Monday, in some of his strongest comments of recent weeks.
Parts of the world, especially the United States with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases, are still seeing huge increases in a first wave of COVID-19 infections, while others “flatten the curve” and ease lockdowns.
Some places including Melbourne and Leicester in England are implementing a second round of shutdowns.
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, albeit with a low 1522 cases, is to tighten social distancing measures again amid growing worries about a third wave.
The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10.
In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.
Coronavirus infections were rising in about 40 US states, according to a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.
Yet US President Donald Trump and White House officials have repeatedly said the disease is under control and that schools must reopen in the autumn.
Since the first cases were reported in China around the new year, it took three months to reach one million cases. It has taken just five days to climb to 13 million cases from 12 million recorded on July 8.
India, the country with the third-highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 23,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.
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