WHO warns 'worst is yet to come' after 500,000 deaths worldwide

The worst of the pandemic is yet to come, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned, six months after the outbreak began and two days after figures confirmed more than 500,000 people have died worldwide.

WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus will infect many more people if governments did not start to implement the right policies and he said the priority should remain: ‘Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine.’

More than 10,000,000 cases have been recorded worldwide since coronavirus emerged in China late last year. Half the world’s cases have been in the US and Europe but Covid-19 is rapidly growing in North and South America.

The virus is also affecting South Asia and Africa, where it is not expected to peak until the end of July.

Cities in Germany, China, Australia and a number of states in the US have announced regional lockdowns amid fears of a Covid-19 second wave.

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Dr Tedros told a virtual briefing last night: ‘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.

‘Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.

‘With 10 million cases now and half a million deaths, unless we address the problems we’ve already identified at WHO, the lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world which is actually helping the virus to spread… the worst is yet to come.’

He added: ‘I’m sorry to say that, but with this kind of environment and conditions we fear the worst.’

He urged governments to follow the examples of Germany, South Korea and Japan, who have all adopted rigorous testing and tracing programs.

Any country claiming that contact tracing is difficult is using ‘a lame excuse’, he said, calling it the biggest failing of some governments throughout the crisis.

‘If there is a single failure for many of our countries to really not hunt down this virus (it) is our failure in contact tracing because we have lame excuses saying “it’s too many and it’s too difficult to trace because there are too many”.’

Dr Tedros added: ‘If contact tracing helps you to win the fight you do it even risking your life. If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult it is a lame excuse.’

A week before huge swathes of England are reopened, data showed that the UK Government’s tracing system failed to reach 30% of people who tested positive for coronavirus.

Thousands of NHS contact tracers were employed to get the system up and running so lockdown could be lifted safely.

But some workers – who are paid between £17 and £27 an hour to call people with coronavirus – have reported having hardly any work to do and filling the gaps by watching Netflix.

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