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First wave of pandemic not over, warns WHO

Bangkok: As Brazil and India struggle with surging coronavirus 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,” Ryan told reporters, pointing to South America, South Asia and other areas where infections are still on the rise.

WHO poured cold water on the hopes of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and others of quickly re-opening the economy, warning that authorities must first have enough testing in place to control the spread of the pandemic. Brazil has 375,000 coronavirus infections — second only to the 1.6 million cases in the US — and has counted over 23,000 deaths but many fear Brazil’s true toll is much higher.

Ryan said Brazil’s “intense” transmission rates means it should keep some stay-at-home measures in place, regardless of the negative impacts on its economy.

“You must continue to do everything you can,” he said.

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