Six months on from the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the outbreak is “not even close to being over”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) boss has warned.
WHO Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing on Monday “we all want this to be over.”
“We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.”
The warning comes as the virus rips through parts of the US and the European Union (EU) considers implementing a ban on travellers from America.
On Monday, renowned expert Dr Peter Hotez told the Houston Chronicle the situation in his home state is “absolutely horrifying” and six months into the pandemic they were effectively back at “square one”.
The state is one of the hardest hit in the US and is facing going back into lockdown after cases surged to more than 5000 a day on Sunday.
“It’s absolutely horrifying. I’m terribly upset about what I see happening. There were some predictive models out of Pennsylvania that actually showed this. This is why I didn’t want Texas to open up as early it did,” the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine told the paper.
“I think we should be red alert for coronavirus threat level. We need to head in that direction. Six months into this epidemic, and we’re basically to square one.”
US cases have surged in the last week, partly due to young, asymptomatic people spreading the disease, experts believe.
EU CONSIDERS BARRING US TRAVELLERS
It comes as the EU is working to finalise a list of countries whose citizens will be able to enter Europe from July 1 when borders are set to open.
Americans are likely to be excluded in the short term due to the high number of cases there and the list will be fully confirmed on Tuesday.
It’s believed nationals from Brazil, Russia and India will also be excluded from the bloc. However any country whose citizens are let in will be expected to drop any travel blockades for European travellers. China and Morocco are said to be under consideration.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told Spanish radio on Monday the list is not for retribution but personal responsibility.
“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries, this is an exercise of self-responsibility,” she said. The list will be reviewed every 14 days
BORIS JOHNSON ADMITS VIRUS ‘DISASTER’
On Monday UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also admitted the virus had been a “disaster” for the country but refuted claims it was the right time for an inquiry into his government’s handling of the pandemic,
“This has been a disaster,” Johnson told Times Radio. “Let’s not mince our words, I mean this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country has gone through a profound shock.”
He said the government owed it to those who have suffered and died to look at what went wrong.
“I totally understand that and we will. I happen to think that the moment is not right now, … when everybody is flat out, I don’t think the moment is right now for consecrating a huge amount of official time to all of that.
“But we are learning lessons the whole time.”
Mr Johnson’s government has made major missteps in handling of the disease in terms of failing to ramp up testing, protect the vulnerable in care homes and supply enough PPE to health workers.
He said he thought about the high level of deaths in the country – which has the highest death toll in Europe – every day.
“What we’ve got is the curve going in the direction roughly that they thought it would. It is very slowly coming down.” “The crucial thing is to make sure that we’re ready to crack down on local flare ups and that’s why we have the wack-a-mole strategy.”