Six months down the line after the first reports of COVID-19, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that we have not yet seen the worst of the pandemic.

Worldwide, there are now over 10 million cases of COVID-19, and 508 419 coronavirus-related deaths have resulted from it thus far.

In a media briefing, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Most people remain susceptible. The virus still has a lot of room to move. The hard reality is: this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”

Ghebreyesus urged the global community to focus on five key points in order to save lives. These are:

  1. Empowering communities by letting them know they are not helpless and there are ways they can keep themselves safe, including social distancing, washing hands, and covering coughs
  2. Suppressing transmission through training and protective equipment for health workers, increased surveillance to find cases, and contact tracing
  3. Saving lives by identifying cases early and paying attention to high-risk groups
  4. Accelerating research since there is still a lot we do not know about the virus
  5. Political leadership, because national unity and global solidarity are important for a comprehensive strategy to suppress transmission

“No matter what stage a country is at, these five priorities – if acted on consistently and coherently – can turn the tide,” he said. “With 10 million cases now and half a million deaths, unless we address the problems we’ve already identified at WHO, the lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world which is actually helping the virus to spread… the worst is yet to come.”

As of June 29, South Africa has 144 269 positive cases of COVID-19, with the majority of cases coming from the Western Cape, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape. The country is currently ranked 17th in the world for the total amount of cases.

According to the Western Cape government, the province has 16 550 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 61 445 confirmed cases and 43 120 recoveries as of June 29.

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, in a tweet, wrote, “The numbers are picking up, the surge is on the way. Particularly in Gauteng the numbers are locking up faster than anticipated”. He urged citizens to continue taking all the necessary precautions, adding that, “Our biggest challenge is getting people to understand and take precautions.”

Globally, the virus is following the same pattern of dramatic increases. According to Al Jazeera, Pakistan has passed the 200 000 mark, and the state of Victoria in Australia experienced its highest daily increase in two months (75 new cases) which their top health official said was “absolutely concerning”.

BBC reported that the United States has over 2.5 million cases, with about 126 000 deaths, making it the country with the highest number of cases. Brazil has the second-highest number of recorded cases, as they have reported over 1.3 million infections and about 57 000 deaths. Russia is third with 647 849 total cases. Half of the world’s cases are in the US and Europe.

“This is a time for renewing our commitment to empowering communities, suppressing transmission, saving lives, accelerating research and political and moral leadership. But it’s also a time for all countries to renew their commitment to universal health coverage as the cornerstone of social and economic development – and to building the safer, fairer, greener, more inclusive world we all want,” said Ghebreyesus.

Also read: Gauteng could become SA’s new COVID-19 hotspot

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