The chief of the World Health Organization warned Monday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, even as some countries gingerly started to ease restrictions.
“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand.”
He compared the coronavirus outbreak, which worldwide has sickened nearly 2.5 million people and killed more than 167,000, to the 1918 Spanish flu that killed up to 100 million. But he said that such a dire outcome does not have to occur.
“Now we have technology, we can prevent that disaster, we can prevent that kind of crisis,” Tedros said.
He also defended the WHO against President Donald Trump’s accusations that the agency failed to adequately and transparently share information about COVID-19 in the early days if the outbreak in China in December.
Trump has halted U.S. funding to the WHO. Washington had been the agency’s biggest donor.
“There is no secret in WHO because keeping things confidential or secret is dangerous. It’s a health issue,” Tedros said Monday.
Meanwhile, the Republican governors of three states — Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee — announced plans Monday to ease lockdowns and allow some businesses to reopen.
Georgia’s Brian Kemp said gyms, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, and barber and beauty shops can unlock their doors starting Friday and restaurants and movie theaters next week.
There have been protests in a number of U.S. capitals, mainly made up of Trump supporters saying the shutdowns, demands to wear face coverings, and social distancing violate their constitutional rights.
Trump has said some of the governors have gone too far with the restrictions and that states will soon reopen for business even though many medical authorities say it is too soon.
A new poll by Yahoo News / YouGov says 60% of Americans oppose the anti-lockdown protesters.
Several countries eased their coronavirus restrictions Monday and allowed some small businesses to reopen. They include Germany, Serbia and Albania.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the lockdown will be immediately reimposed if the coronavirus erupts again.
Norwegian students returned to school Monday and some students in Denmark returned Wednesday. Sri Lanka plans to lift some lockdown restrictions Wednesday.
U.S. health officials say they will start publicly sharing information on infections and deaths at nursing homes where, according to the Associated Press, nearly 8,500 patients have died from coronavirus.
Residents and their families will be informed of cases and the facilities will have to report directly to federal officials. (Text and photo courtesy VOA)