GENEVA (Reuters) -Confusion and complacency in addressing COVID-19 means the pandemic is a long way from over, but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
“We too want to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming,” Tedros told a news briefing.
“But right now, intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying – and it’s totally avoidable.”
“The COVID19 pandemic is a long way from over. But we have many reasons for optimism. The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped,” he added, saying transmission was being driven by “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures.”
India has overtaken Brazil to become the nation with the second highest number of infections worldwide after the United States, as it battles a massive second wave, having given about 105 million vaccine doses among a population of 1.4 billion.
WHO team leader on COVID-19 Maria van Kerkove told the news briefing the pandemic was growing exponentially, with a 9% increase in cases last week, the seventh consecutive week of increases, and a 5% rise in deaths.
Tedros said that in some countries, despite continuing transmission, restaurants and nightclubs were full and markets were open and crowded with few people taking precautions.
“Some people appear to be taking the approach that if they’re relatively young, it doesn’t matter if they get COVID-19,” he said.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by William Maclean)