DUBAI/GENEVA/RIO DE JANEIRO • The coronavirus pandemic is still accelerating and its effects will be felt for decades, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday, after reporting a record rise in global Covid-19 cases on Sunday.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual health forum organised by the 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.”
Sunday’s record increase in global infections saw the total number of cases rise by 183,020 in a 24-hour period, according to a WHO daily report. The previous record for new cases was 181,232 on June 18.
The biggest increase came from North and South America, which had more than 116,000 new cases, the WHO said.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases around the world now total around 9 million, with about 470,000 deaths.
Brazil, the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hot spot after the United States, officially passed 50,000 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, a blow for the country which is already grappling with more than 1 million cases, rising political instability and a crippled economy.
Experts say the country’s true numbers are a lot higher because of a lack of widespread testing.
The virus’ rapid spread in Brazil has eroded support for President Jair Bolsonaro and raised fears of economic collapse after years of anaemic growth.
Mr Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Tropical Trump”, has been widely criticised for his handling of the crisis. The country still has no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.
The right-wing president has shunned social distancing, calling it a job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has also promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence that they work.
In India, the federal health ministry reported a record number of new coronavirus cases yesterday and a death toll of more than 400 in the past 24 hours.
The 15,000 new cases brought India’s total to more than 425,000, the fourth worst-hit nation in the world. Nearly 14,000 people in India have now died from the disease.
The German embassy sent messages to its citizens living in New Delhi warning them that there was “little to no chance” of admission to hospital for treatment for coronavirus as well as other intensive care needs.
The WHO had last week warned of a new and dangerous phase of the coronavirus pandemic, with people tiring of lockdowns despite the disease’s rapid spread.
The disease is still surging in the Americas and parts of Asia, even as European countries start to ease their restrictive measures.
“The pandemic is still accelerating,” Dr Tedros told the online conference yesterday.
“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 added. “Its effects will be felt for decades to come.”
A vaccine remains months off at best, and scientists are still discovering more about the virus and the extent to which it may have spread before being identified.