Officials from the World Health Organization warned Monday that the coronavirus pandemic was still a major problem, adding that protesters and governments needed to be cautious during anti-racism demonstrations around the world.
“More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily briefing in Geneva.
“This is far from over,” Maria van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said later in the briefing, pointing to the rising number of cases in Latin America.
In his opening remarks, Tedros said that on Sunday more than 136,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported, the most in a single day so far. “Almost 75 percent of yesterday’s cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia,” he said.
“We’re encouraged that several countries around the world are seeing positive signs,” he said, but “in these countries, the biggest threat now is complacency.”
Tedros said that the organization supported equality and the global movement against racism but that protesters around the world needed to consider the pandemic, too. “As much as possible, keep at least one meter from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest,” Tedros said.
“We remind all people to stay home if you are sick and contact a health-care provider,” he continued.
Asked whether those who attended protests should self-isolate or take other measures, WHO officials said that would depend on local conditions unless there was a confirmed case of prolonged exposure to a symptomatic case. “The riskiest situation to be in is to be in close proximity to a case, particularly a symptomatic case, of covid-19,” said Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert.
“We would hope that in any mass gathering now, in any situation where people come together, that people have had four to five months to really internalize that someone who is unwell, someone who is febrile, someone who is getting ill, should really be at home and not engaged in any public activity,” Ryan added.