The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the largest daily increase in global coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Sunday, registering more than 183,000 new infections in 24 hours.
With this, the number of infections as of Sunday evening rose to 8.8 million cases worldwide, with more than 465,000 deaths.
Officials of the agency during a virtual briefing from Geneva on Monday said this was the largest single-day increase of the virus since it was first detected in Wuhan, China.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said “it seems that almost every day we reach a new and grim record.”
He said some countries continue to see a rapid increase in the number of cases and deaths.
“Others that had successfully suppressed transmission, are now seeing an upswing as they reopen their economies,” he said.
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Mr Ghebreyesus said countries are facing “a delicate balance between protecting their people while minimising the social and economic damage.”
“It is not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both.”
He said governments across the world must be “careful and creative” in finding solutions so that people stay safe while getting on with their lives.
He also urged countries to double-down on the fundamental public health measures that are known to limit spread.
These include finding and testing suspected cases, isolating and caring for the sick, tracing and quarantining contacts, and protecting health workers.
“These measures can only be effective if each person follows recommendations for physical distancing, hand washing and mask-wearing,” he added.
Meanwhile, the WHO Executive Director, Michael Ryan, said the increase in the number of infections globally is because the disease is now being reported in most ‘populous’ countries.
He said this might not necessarily be attributed to increase in testing, but the increasing rate of community transmission in those countries.
“The numbers are quickly rising because the epidemic is developing in a number of populous countries at the same time, even as it appears to be stabilising and even reducing in parts of Western Europe.
“We do not believe this is a testing phenomenon. There definitely is a shift in that the virus is now very well established. The epidemic is now peaking or moving towards a peak in a number of large countries. The situation is definitely accelerating in a number of countries, including in South Asia and the Americas,” he said.
He also said the curve is yet to peak in these countries and as such “more cases are expected to be reported”.