The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday that COVID-19 rather than ending was accelerating dangerously around the world with the highest number of cases reported in a single day on Thursday.
The WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sounded the red alert at his regular press briefing from Geneva on Friday, saying that more than 150,000 cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Thursday alone, the highest in a single day.
He said it was understandable people were “fed up” with staying home, but the data suggested that the coronavirus pandemic was accelerating and infecting more people.
He advised those who must go out to wear face masks and respect social distancing to reduce the spread of the respiratory disease.
Dr. Ghebreyesus said most of the new cases came from the Americas, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
He said: “The pandemic is accelerating. More than 150 thousand new cases of COVID-19 were reported to WHO yesterday – the most in a single day so far. Almost half of those cases were reported from the Americas, with large numbers also being reported from South Asia and the Middle East.
“The world is in a new and dangerous phase. Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies.
“But the virus is still spreading fast, it’s still deadly, and most people are still susceptible. We call on all countries and all people to exercise extreme vigilance.
“Continue maintaining your distance from others. Stay home if you feel sick. Keep covering your nose and mouth when you cough. Wear a mask when appropriate. Keep cleaning your hands.
“We continue to call on all countries to focus on the basics: find, isolate, test and care for every case. Trace and quarantine every contact.
“As the pandemic gathers pace, it’s the most vulnerable who will suffer the most. All countries rich and poor have populations who are vulnerable to a higher risk of severe disease and death.”
He called for global solidarity, warning the deadly virus was likely to win if the world was divided and was unable to put politics aside.
Among the guests at the press briefing today was Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Grandi said the number of refugees in the world was increasing dramatically, and in the era of COVID-19 was leaving more people vulnerable.
He said although there have not been major outbreaks in refugees camps, there was still a possibility of major outbreaks, and vigilance should be maintained.
Tomorrow, Saturday, is World Refugee Day – an important moment to highlight the risks of COVID-19 for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The WHO DG said “refugees are particularly at risk of COVID-19 because they often have limited access to adequate shelter, water, nutrition, sanitation, and health services.”
“Over 80 per cent of the world’s refugees and nearly all the world’s internally displaced people are hosted in low- and middle-income countries. WHO is deeply concerned about the very real and present danger of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in refugee camps,” he said.
According to Dr. Ghebreyesus, beyond the health threat posed by the virus, COVID-19 is also exposing many refugees to even more severe hardship.
“A report published today by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement shows that about 70 percent of refugees surveyed in Turkey reported having lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic.
“We have a shared duty to do everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to transmission of COVID-19 among refugee populations.
“Public health measures that reduce transmission of COVID-19 require strict and sustained implementation. This is difficult to achieve in refugee camps, where the public health situation is weak,” he said.