COVID-19 pandemic isn't slowing down, warns WHO chief scientist
"In the last 24 hours, close to 500,000 new cases have been reported and about 9,300 deaths," said WHO scientist
"Now that's not a pandemic that's slowing down," she said
Countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Russia are witnessing a surge in cases amid the spread of the Delta variant
As many countries are lifting COVID-19 curbs, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has warned that the pandemic "isn't slowing down," reported Bloomberg. The warning came as countries, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Russia and Thailand, are witnessing a sharp surge in cases amid the spread of the Delta variant.
"In the last 24 hours, close to 500,000 new cases have been reported and about 9,300 deaths -- now that's not a pandemic that's slowing down," Swaminathan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
She said that COVID vaccination drives in some countries have reduced severe cases and hospitalisations. However, a large part of the world is facing oxygen shortages, a lack of hospital beds and higher mortality, Swaminathan added.
Amid a massive surge in COVID cases and the oxygen supply shortage it has induced, Indonesia has sought help from other countries. Meanwhile, Bangladesh last month imposed a strict shutdown amid a sharp surge in COVID. Russia on Friday recorded over 25,000 COVID cases, the highest since January 2, as the country is struggling to curb the infections blamed on the Delta variant.
Cases are rising in five of six WHO regions, Swaminathan has warned. In Africa, mortality rates have jumped by 30% to 40% in two weeks.
As per the WHO scientist, the highly infectious Delta variant, slow rollout of COVID vaccines and lifting of curbs are the reasons behind it.
The world health body this week urged countries to be careful when reopening so as not to hamper the gains made. The United States and several European nations have eased curbs amid a drop in cases. The United Kingdom will remove restrictions on July 19.
"The idea that everyone is protected and it's kumbaya and everything goes back to normal is a very dangerous assumption right now anywhere in the world," said Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO's health emergencies program, at a media briefing on Wednesday.
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in central China in 2019, has globally infected more than 186 million people and killed over a million of them.
After being badly hit by the second wave, India is seeing a dip in daily cases. The experts have, however, warned of a third wave that is expected to hit the country in August-September.