The World Health Organization on Monday warned against complacency and urged countries to continue their efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus as the pandemic was getting worse globally, Reuters reported.

There are more than 71.21 lakh coronavirus cases worldwide. Covid-19 has killed over 4.06 lakh people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that more than 1,36,000 cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, and this was the most in a single day so far. “More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” he said in an online briefing.

The WHO chief’s comments came hours after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident that her country had eliminated the transmission of the coronavirus, and so the government lifted all lockdown restrictions. However, strict border controls are still in place.

WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Michael Ryan said that infections in Central American countries such as Guatemala were still on the rise, and they were “complex” epidemics. “I think this is a time of great concern,” Ryan said, highlighting the need for a strong government leadership and international support for the region.

On being asked about China, Ryan said that studies of how the outbreak has been addressed can wait. “We need to focus now on what we are doing today to prevent second peaks,” he said.

Last week, the health ministry of Brazil took down the Covid-19 data and rising toll, and replaced it by releasing two contradictory sets of figures. Brazil is one of the worst-affected countries during the pandemic with more than 7.07 lakh cases and 37,134 deaths. Ryan said the country’s data had been “extremely detailed” till now, and the WHO hoped that communication would continue to be “consistent and transparent”.

Meanwhile, Maria van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said that the pandemic is far from over. She said that many countries doing contact tracing had identified asymptomatic cases, but they did not find these cases causing further spread of the virus. “It is very rare,” she said.

Referring to the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd last month, the WHO chief said that there should be active surveillance of the virus to ensure it does not rebound, AFP reported. “WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism,” the WHO chief said. “We reject discrimination of all kinds.” He added that those protesting should do so safely. “As much as possible, keep at least one metre from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest.”

On Friday, the world health body had said that India’s coronavirus count of over 2 lakh cases was “modest” given its size but warned that the number of infections could explode as the country gradually emerges from the weeks-long lockdown.

India’s tally rose to 2,66,598 on Tuesday morning, after 9,987 cases were reported in 24 hours. This is the highest single-day rise so far. The toll increased to 7,466 after 266 deaths were reported in a day. India is now the fifth most-affected country in the world.

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