As Brazil and India struggle with surging Covid cases, a top health expert is warning that the world is still smack in the middle of the pandemic, dampening hopes for a speedy global economic rebound and renewed international travel.
'Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,' said Dr Mike Ryan, the World Health Organisation’s executive director.
'We’re still very much in a phase, where the disease is actually on the way up,' said Dr. Ryan, pointing to South America, South Asia and other areas where infections are still on the rise.
India saw a record single-day jump in new cases for the seventh straight day. It reported 6,535 new infections on Tuesday, raising its total to 145,380, including 4,167 deaths. The virus has taken hold in some of India’s poorest, most densely populated areas, underscoring the challenges that the authorities face in curbing the spread of a virus for which a vaccine or cure isn’t yet in sight.
Most of India’s cases are concentrated in the western states of Maharashtra, home to the financial hub of Mumbai and Gujarat. Infections have also climbed in the east as migrant workers returned to their native villages from India’s largest cities.
Despite this, India allowed domestic flights to resume Monday following a two-month hiatus, but at a fraction of normal traffic levels.
The WHO poured cold water on the hopes of the Brazilian President, Mr. Jair Bolsonaro, and others of quickly re-opening the economy, warning that they must first have enough testing in place to control the spread of the pandemic. Brazil has 375,000 infections — second only to the 1.6 million cases in the US — and has counted over 23,000 deaths but many fear its true toll is much higher.