News ID: 271046
Published: 0259 GMT July 04, 2020

WHO urges countries to 'wake up' and halt virus

WHO urges countries to 'wake up' and halt virus

The World Health Organization called on countries hit by serious outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities as Brazil’s confirmed cases surpassed 1.5 million on Saturday, with over 63,000 deaths.

The UN’ health organization on Friday urged countries to "wake up" to the realities on the ground instead of bickering, and to "take control," AFP reported.

"People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists at a briefing hosted by the UN correspondents' association in Geneva.

Brazil registered 42,223 additional coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Friday, bringing the total tally to 1,539,081, the second-worst outbreak in the world behind the United States.

The number of coronavirus deaths rose by 1,290 to 63,174, according to the ministry, Reuters reported.

The Americas are the hardest-hit region, with most cases and deaths registered in the United States, and with numbers skyrocketing in a several countries in Latin America.

Asked about the dire situations in nations like Brazil and Mexico, which have been moving away from lockdowns despite ballooning numbers of infections and deaths, Ryan cautioned that "too many countries are ignoring what the data is telling them".

"There are good economic reasons that the countries need to bring their economies back online," Ryan said.

"It's understandable, but you can't ignore the problem either. The problem will not magically go away."

Brazil’s popular tourist city Rio de Janeiro authorized restaurants and cafes to reopen at 50 percent capacity, while President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday watered down a law requiring the wearing of face masks in public places.

In the case of Brazil, the WHO emergencies director said that the numbers had "stabilized", meaning they are no longer rising as steeply, but they are "still rising".

Ryan also stressed that despite "fighting a large number of cases for a long time now," Brazil's hospitals and intensive care units had not yet been overwhelmed.

"We want to see them intensify efforts and we want to see more progress," he said, "but we also have to pay credit to the health system in Brazil for its capacity to cope for what has been a long battle against this virus."

While he acknowledged that countries facing explosive outbreaks had some "pretty stark choices" ahead, he insisted that "it is never too late in an epidemic to take control".

Instead of placing an entire nation under lockdown, he suggested that countries could try to break down the problem.

It could be possible to loosen restrictions in areas with lower transmission rates and still contain the outbreak through things like physical distancing, hand-washing, testing, isolating cases and contact tracing.

But in areas where the virus is spreading uncontrollably, strict measures could be unavoidable, he said.

"If countries proceed with opening up without the capacity to cope with the likely caseload, then you end up in a worst-case scenario," Ryan warned.

"If the health system stops coping, more people will die."

He said there could be places in Mexico and in other countries "where it may be important to slow down or to reverse some of the measures aimed at opening up society."

"It is looking at: can you control transmission by any other means other than transmission? If you can't, you may not have an alternative" to lockdown.

 

   
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