WHO calls for ‘reality check’ as COVID-19 cases globally increase

Published April 14, 2021, 12:27 PM

by Jaleen Ramos

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a “reality check” as coronavirus infections around the world increased by 4.4 million in the past week, with some countries already abandoning restrictions.

Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit, speaks during a briefing on COVID-19 at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/ FILE PHOTO

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures. It is time right now where everyone has to have a reality check about what we need to be doing,” said Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for coronavirus response, at a briefing Monday, according to a CNN report.

Van Kerkhove warned that the world is in a “critical point of the pandemic” and is growing exponentially.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said several countries in Asia and the Middle East have seen large increases in cases.

He cited that “confusion, complacency, and inconsistency in public health measures” were the main factors for these increases.

Among those countries which drive these regional increases are India, Turkey, Iran, the Philippines, and Iraq.

Ghebreyesus stressed that public health measures such as the wearing of face masks, observing proper physical distancing, ventilation, hand  hygiene, surveillance, testing, tracing, and isolation all work to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Make no mistake, vaccines are a vital and powerful tool, but they are not the only tool,” Ghebreyesus said. “We say this day after day, week after week, and we will keep saying it: physical distancing works, masks work, and hygiene works. Ventilation works, surveillance testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care all work to stop infections and save lives.”

Last week, the Philippines reported 401 new coronavirus deaths, the highest single-day spike in fatalities since the start of the pandemic, and 12,225 additional infections. Total confirmed cases in the country rose to 840,554, while deaths reached 14,520. 

Total cases in India top 13 million as the country reports its highest single-day spike with 161,736 new coronavirus cases recorded in just a day on Tuesday, April 13. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran has surpassed two million since the beginning of the pandemic on Thursday, April 8. The country entered its fourth wave of the pandemic last week

Deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi described the COVID infection rate as “meteoric” and said it was now “highly probable” that Iran would suffer 600 deaths a day.

In Brazil, 4,195 people were recorded dead in just 24 hours on Tuesday.

More than two million people have died of COVID-19 around the world since the outbreak emerged in December, 2019.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 562,533 deaths, followed by Brazil with 354,617, Mexico with 209,702, India with 171,058, and Britain with 127,100.