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WHO says pandemic ‘not even close’ to over as death toll tops 500,000

WHO says pandemic ‘not even close’ to over as death toll tops 500,000

AFP
Geneva
The coronavirus pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the WHO warned on Monday, as the global death toll passed half a million and cases surge in Latin America and the United States.
In another grim milestone, the number of infections recorded worldwide rose to more than 10 million, according to an AFP tally, while some authorities reimposed lockdown measures that have crippled the global economy.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over,” he said, adding that “although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.” The virus emerged six months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in connection with the search for its origin, Tedros said.
COVID-19 is still rampaging across the US, which has recorded more than 125,000 deaths and 2.5 million cases -- both around a quarter of the global totals.
As numerous US states are forced to reimpose restrictions on restaurants and bars, President Donald Trump has come under growing pressure to set an example by wearing a mask.
Trump’s health secretary has warned the “window is closing” for the country to gain control of the situation, but the president has largely turned away from the crisis, spending much of Sunday at his golf club in Virginia.
However, he may not be able to avoid masks forever -- the Florida city of Jacksonville, where Trump’s Republicans are due to hold their national convention in August, declared face masks mandatory on Monday.
The second hardest-hit country Brazil registered 259,105 infections in the seven days through Sunday -- the country’s highest of any week during the pandemic.
The latest figures came as protesters in cities across Brazil -- and as far away as Stockholm, London and Barcelona -- held demonstrations against President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said the virus is akin to a “little flu” and railed against stay-at-home measures.
“Brazil is suffering immense pain, a hidden pain that throbs in the face of the incredible numbers of deaths caused by COVID-19,” the organisers of a protest in the capital Brasilia said.
While bars were forced to close in Los Angeles, Ireland’s pubs began pouring pints for the first time in 15 weeks, as Europe -- still the hardest-hit continent -- continues to open up after seeing numbers of new cases fall.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country had gone through a “profound shock” as he prepared to unveil a large stimulus programme. His government still plans to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers across England on July 4.

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