The World Health Organization on Monday said that many countries reporting a record number of new coronavirus cases cannot be attributed to more testing. Countries like India and the United States have linked the rise in infections to increased testing regime.

The health body’s top emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, said that the figures are increasing as the pandemic is developing in a number of populous countries at the same time, according to AP. “We do not believe that this is a testing phenomenon,” Ryan said at a news conference at the organisation’s Geneva headquarters. “Clearly when you look at the hospital admissions, [they] are also rising in a number of countries and deaths are also rising. They’re not due to increased testing per se. So there definitely is a shift in the sense that the virus is now very well established on a global level.”

Ryan said that the pandemic is now moving towards a peak in a number of large countries such as the US, and in regions including South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Meanwhile, WHO epidemiologist and technical lead on the pandemic, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that many countries that have been successful in tackling the coronavirus spread are witnessing an increase in cases due to dropping of restrictions, Reuters reported. She cited South Korea as an example but stopped short of describing it as a “second wave” of the pandemic.

“Any opportunity that the virus has to take hold, it will,” she added. Van Kerkhove also urged countries to “put everything they can” to isolate and prevent community transmission of the virus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said everyday the world is reaching a “grim” record. “All countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimising the social and economic damage,” he said. “It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both.”

He reiterated that countries should continue to test suspected cases and isolate those who are sick.

Globally, 91 lakh cases have been confirmed worldwide and 4.72 lakh people have died of the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 45 lakh people across the world have recovered from the infection.

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