If there’s a question most people are asking themselves now, that probably is when the coronavirus pandemic will be over and lockdowns can be lifted or at least relaxed. Well, better get comfortable, as this will be a long ride.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of newly reported cases across the world reached a daily record this week with over 100,000 new cases on Tuesday. This means “we still have a long way to go in the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Nearly two-thirds of the cases were from just four countries, the WHO, said. These are the US, Russia, Brazil, and the UK. The US was the one to report the highest number of new cases, 45,251, followed by Brazil, with 13,140 cases. Almost five million cases and 325,000 deaths have been registered since the pandemic originated in China five months ago.
"We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries," Tedros said. "The pandemic has taught and informed many lessons. Health is not a cost. It's an investment. To live in a secure world, guaranteeing quality health for all is not just the right choice. It's the smart choice."
At the conference, Tedros anticipated countries will have to manage their activity around the coronavirus for the foreseeable future, with some experiencing a decline in the number of infections while in others the virus will resurge. This means there will be “no going back to business as usual,” according to Tedros, adding the virus is still “extremely dangerous.”
The new record of cases comes at the time of a dispute between the WHO and US President Donald Trump, who has accused the organization of mishandling the pandemic and leaning towards China. Trump reignited the conflict this week, threatening to withdraw from the WHO and withhold funding.
Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said funding from the US goes to a program that helps countries all over the world in “all sorts of fragile and difficult settings.” This means now the WHO will have to work with “other partners” to make sure the funds “can still flow,” Ryan said.
Meanwhile, Teros said he has received a letter from Trump, but didn’t want to comment further. He said he was committed to accountability and would carry out a review into the response to the pandemic. A review has been asked by member states and led to a resolution about being passed by consensus this week.
“I said it time and time again that WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” Tedros said of the review, not specifying when it would be done. Meanwhile, Ryan said reviews are usually done after emergencies are over.
The WHO representatives also referred at the press conference to the use of hydroxychloroquine, a medicine for malaria that has been mentioned in the media as a potential treatment for coronavirus infections. Ryan said people should avoid using it as there’s no evidence of effectiveness in the treatment of the virus
Reacting to the new numbers of cases of coronavirus, Trump said it is “a badge of honor” that the US has the world's highest number. "I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better," he said at the White House.
Despite the US has done more tests in volume than other countries, it’s not the number one per capita, according to Our World in Data, a scientific publication based at Oxford University. The US ranks 16th global terms of tests per 1,000 people, ahead of South Korea.