WHO warns of ‘accelerating’ pandemic

June 23, 2020

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There are also fears of a second wave with Australians being warned against travelling to Melbourne. — Reuters/File
There are also fears of a second wave with Australians being warned against travelling to Melbourne. — Reuters/File

• Brazil reaches 50,000 deaths mark
• Cinemas, swimming pools reopen in Paris

DUBAI: The World Health Organisation (WHO) sent out a fresh warning on Monday over the dangers of the new coronavirus even as France returned to life by staging an annual music festival and sending millions of children back to school.

In spite of numerous European countries further easing their lockdown restrictions, cases around the world are rising especially in Latin America with Brazil now registering over 50,000 deaths.

There are also fears of a second wave with Australians being warned against travelling to Melbourne.

“The pandemic is still accelerating,” WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the virtual health forum organised by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

“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. Its effects will be felt for decades to come.”

Tedros said the greatest threat facing the world is not the virus itself, which has now killed over 465,000 people and infected nearly nine million worldwide, 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.”

Brazil falls into that bracket with President Jair Bolsonaro comparing the virus to a “little flu” and arguing that the economic impact of shutdowns is often worse than the virus itself.

Brazil is the second worst-affected country behind the United States, another country where political infighting has prevented a unified policy to handle the virus.

The spread of Covid-19 is accelerating across Latin America, with Mexico, Peru and Chile also hard-hit as death tolls soar and healthcare facilities are pushed toward collapse.

Mexico City has delayed reopening markets, restaurants, malls, hotels and places of worship, with the country now recording over 20,000 Covid-19 deaths.

In Europe, meanwhile, the feel good factor continues as countries ease their lockdown restrictions.

Thousands of French danced and partied well into Monday for an annual music festival, in the first big blow out since the lockdown.

Although none of the usual extravaganzas were held beyond what French electronic music legend Jean-Michel Jarre billed as the world’s first live virtual “avatar” concert, many felt the authorities were too lax.

Swimming pools and cinemas also reopened on Monday, with one cinema opening one minute after midnight for a sneak preview of the upcoming French comedy, Les Parfums.

Children up to the age of 15 also retur­ned to school as attendance was switched from voluntary to compulsory.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2020