GENEVA • New coronavirus cases have registered their biggest daily increase as the pandemic worsens globally and has yet to peak in central America, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, urging countries to press on with efforts to contains the virus.
“More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing on Monday.
More than 136,000 new cases were reported across the world on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, he said. Nearly 75 per cent of them were reported from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia.
In response to a question on China, WHO’s top emergencies expert, Dr Mike Ryan, said retrospective studies of how the outbreak has been addressed could wait, adding: “We need to focus now on what we are doing today to prevent second peaks.”
Dr Ryan also said infections in central American countries, including Guatemala, were still on the rise, and that they were “complex” epidemics.
“I think this is a time of great concern,” he said, calling for strong government leadership and international support for the region.
Brazil is now one of the hot spots of the pandemic, with the second highest number of confirmed cases, behind only the United States, and a death toll that last week surpassed Italy’s.
After removing cumulative numbers for coronavirus deaths in Brazil from a national website, the Health Ministry sowed further confusion and controversy by releasing two contradictory sets of figures for the latest tally of infection cases and fatalities.
Dr Ryan said Brazil’s data had been “extremely detailed” so far but stressed that it was important for Brazilians to understand where the virus is and how to manage risk, and that the WHO hoped communication would be “consistent and transparent”.
Meanwhile, at least half of Singapore’s new coronavirus cases show no symptoms, the co-head of the government’s virus taskforce told Reuters on Monday, reinforcing the city-state’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions very gradually.
HERE AND NOW
We need to focus now on what we are doing today to prevent second peaks. I think this is a time of great concern.
DR MIKE RYAN, WHO’s top emergencies expert, in response to a question on how China has addressed the outbreak.