United States Faces Pandemic as WHO Warns “No Return to Normal”

S T. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) – Tensions mounted over how the United States is dealing with a resurgent coronavirus outbreak on Monday, as global health officials warned that the pandemic will only escalate worldwide unless officials adopt comprehensive strategies to combat it.

The spread of the virus is worsening in many countries and “there will be no return to normal in the foreseeable future,” said director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros asked the countries to present comprehensive strategies and noted that approximately half of all new cases are in the Americas. His comments came a day after Florida broke the record among US states for the largest single-day gain in new confirmed cases, with more than 15,000.

“If basic principles are not followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go,” said Tedros. “It is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

Meanwhile, two WHO experts were in China on a mission to trace the origin of the pandemic. The virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in central China late last year. Beijing had been reluctant to allow an investigation, but relented after many countries asked WHO to carry out a thorough investigation.

The investigation comes as cases continue to rise in many U.S. states, especially the South and West.

“I really think we could control this, and it is the human element that is so critical. It should be an effort of our country. We should be together when we are in a crisis, and we definitely are not, ”said University of Florida epidemiologist Cindy Prins.

US totals are still well below the numbers reached in April, according to a recent analysis of data from the Johns Hopkins University Associated Press.

But with President Donald Trump pressuring school districts to reopen this fall, and with the academic year in some southern states just a few weeks away, the debate over how to respond to the revival is getting more heated.

“I think there are going to be many challenges to opening schools safely and simply stating that just because you want to open safely you don’t do it that way,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Safety at Johns University. Hopkins told a Fox News interviewer on Sunday.

Admiral Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, called wearing masks in public, which has met resistance in some states in the United States, “absolutely essential.”

Giroir, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told ABC “This Week” on Sunday that “if we don’t have that, we won’t be in control of the virus.”

Trump wore a mask in public for the first time on Saturday, something the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday that showed she “crossed a bridge.”

In Florida, where parts of Walt Disney World reopened on Saturday, 15,299 people tested positive, for a total of 269,811 cases, and 45 deaths were recorded, according to statistics from the state Department of Health reported on Sunday.

California held the previous record for daily positive cases: 11,694, set Wednesday.

The numbers reach the end of a record week as Florida reported 514 deaths, an average of 73 per day. Three weeks ago, the state averaged 30 deaths per day.

Regarding WHO experts in China, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hua Chunying, said they would work with Chinese scientists and medical experts on “scientific cooperation on the new topic of coronavirus tracking.”

China has argued that the virus could have originated outside of China and has angrily denied accusations that it covered up the magnitude of the outbreak when the infections began to spread.

Trump harshly criticized the WHO for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused him of bowing to Chinese influence. The Trump administration formally notified the UN last week of its withdrawal from the WHO, although the withdrawal will not take effect until July 6, 2021.

“We have a basic consensus with the WHO that virus tracking is a scientific problem, and that requires international scientific research and the cooperation of scientists from around the world,” said Hua, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “The WHO also believes that virus tracking is an ongoing problem, which may involve multiple countries and regions, and will also conduct similar inspections in other countries and regions as needed.”

The WHO confirmed the visit of an epidemiologist and animal disease specialist, but has not provided information on their agendas while in China. The virus causing the deadly disease COVID-19 is believed to have originated from bats and then jumped into humans through an intermediary species, possibly the anteater-like pangolin that is prized in China for its scales used in Chinese medicine. and its meat.

In Japan, more than 30 Marines tested positive at the Futenma US Air Station in Okinawa, where infections among US service members have rapidly increased to more than 90 since last week. Okinawa is home to more than half of the approximately 50,000 Japanese-based American soldiers.

Confirmed cases have also been found at three other Okinawa bases: 22 at Camp Hansen, one at Camp Kinser and one at Camp McTureous. Authorities said movements of people in Futenma and Camp Hansen have been restricted and that large-scale virus tests are underway.

In other parts of the world, the number of infections has increased dramatically in India, South Africa and Brazil, whose virus-denying president has tested positive.

India, which has the most confirmed virus cases after the United States and Brazil, reported a record daily increase of 28,701 new cases reported in the last 24 hours on Monday. Authorities in several cities are re-establishing strict blockades after trying to loosen things up to revive a crisis economy.

In South Africa, which accounts for more than 40% of all reported coronavirus cases in Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa re-imposed a ban on alcohol sales and reinstated the night curfew to reduce the number of people needing treatment for emergency so hospitals have more beds to treat COVID -19 patients.

“We are taking these measures fully aware that they impose unwanted restrictions on people’s lives. However, they are necessary to see us at the peak of the disease, ”Ramaphosa said in a letter to the nation on Monday. “There is no way to avoid the coronavirus storm. But we can limit the damage it can cause to our lives. “