WHO concerned at cases in Europe, Americas

Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge
·3-min read

The World Health Organisation says there is no time for complacency in confronting the coronavirus despite positive news about possible vaccines.

"Right now we are extremely concerned by the surge in COVID-19 cases we're seeing in some countries," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet on Monday.

"Particularly in Europe and the Americas, health workers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point."

More than 54.44 million people have been reported infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,318,042 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan also said on Monday that the news that US pharmaceutical firm Moderna appears to have developed a highly effective vaccine is "quite encouraging" but more data is needed.

Trial participants need to be monitored for two more months for possible side effects, she told a press conference in Geneva.

"There are many questions still remaining" about the Moderna product and about Pfizer's rival vaccine candidate that has also shown to be very effective in trials, Swaminathan said.

More needs to be known about how long these vaccines protect against the coronavirus, to what extent they prevent severe cases of COVID-19 disease and what impact they have on elderly people, she said.

India on Monday reported 30,548 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily tally in four months, even as the capital New Delhi has been reeling under a new surge of infections.

The federal health ministry's data showed that the overall tally in the country of 1.35 billion has now risen to more than 8.84 million as the number of daily reported cases continued to decline.

The previous lowest number of daily cases - 29,429 - was reported on July 15 in India, which remains the second-worst coronavirus-infected country in the world after the United States.

The ministry reported fresh 435 deaths due to the virus in the last 24 hours from Sunday morning, bringing the number of total fatalities to 130,070.

At 1.47 per cent, India's COVID-19 fatality rate is among the lowest in the world.

Meanwhile, Russia reported a single-day record high for new coronavirus cases of more than 22,700 on Monday.

Russia has recorded the world's fourth-largest coronavirus caseload, with more 1.9 million cases.

Russia is expected to make its state-produced coronavirus vaccine available to the general public within the next two months.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Monday he was hopeful the country's full lockdown was working but he remains cautious.

In the past few days the number of new infections has stabilised, albeit at a high level, but the circulation of the virus has slowed.

"Even if there are signs of improvement, we have not yet defeated the virus", he told reporters.