GENEVA • The coronavirus pandemic has yet to peak in the Americas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned, as it said global infections were likely to hit 10 million within a week.
Europe has seen a surge of Covid-19 cases since countries on the continent began easing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus, the UN health agency said yesterday.
The WHO said the length and height of peaks would be determined by government actions, without which a lurch back towards lockdowns was unavoidable.
The world body also warned that at the current rate of new cases, a shortage of concentrators – devices that purify oxygen – to help critically-ill patients was looming.
“In the first month of this outbreak, fewer than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost four million cases have been reported,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
“We expect to reach a total of 10 million cases within the next week.”
He added: “This is a sober reminder that even as we continue research into vaccines and therapeutics, we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives.”
WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said more than two dozen countries in Europe had seen resurgences of the virus.
“Thirty countries have seen increases in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks. In 11 of these countries, accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked, will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe,” he warned.
Across the world, the coronavirus has killed at least 477,500 people and infected nearly 9.3 million since it was detected in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.