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WHO warns nations that virus is still spreading

By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | | Updated: 2020-06-23 04:01
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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. [Photo/Agencies]

The World Health Organization warned on Monday that all countries face a delicate balance between protecting their people and minimizing the social and economic damage.

The WHO reported more than 183,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the most in a single day so far.

"It seems that almost every day we reach a new and grim record," the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing from Geneva.

More than 8.8 million cases have now been reported to the WHO, and more than 465,000 people have lost their lives.

Some countries are continuing to see a rapid increase in cases and deaths, while some countries that have successfully suppressed transmission are now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopen their societies and economies, according to the WHO.

"All countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimizing the social and economic damage," Tedros said.

He emphasized that it's not a choice between lives and livelihoods, and countries can do both.

The WHO continues to urge countries to be careful and creative in finding solutions that enable people to stay safe while getting on with their lives. "We continue to urge all countries to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we know work," Tedros said.

Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said the WHO will be issuing further guidance in the coming days as countries open to travel.

"It's important to emphasize that it's the responsibility and duty of each sovereign state to put in place protections for its own population, that applies not only within countries but with regard to travel to and out of any country," he said.

Most European Union countries reopened their internal borders a week ago after a closure of nearly three months. Spain, which was one of the worst-hit EU state but has recovered after months of imposing strict lockdown measures, is the latest to open its borders to European tourists on Sunday.

Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO program, said the WHO is working very closely with the travel industry to support their reopening.

She said that people need to make sure that the process from leaving home to arriving at their destination is all done in a safe manner. "We need individuals to also play their role," she said.

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