'This isn’t the second wave': Stark warning amid ongoing global pandemic

The World Health Organisation has issued a concerning warning about the global pandemic, putting a damper on hopes for a speedy global economic rebound.

The global body has reminded the world that it remains mired in in only the first stage of the pandemic, pointing to rising rates of infections in new hotspots around the world.

"Right now, we're not in the second wave. We're right in the middle of the first wave globally," said Dr Mike Ryan, WHO's executive director.

"We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," Ryan said, pointing to South America, South Asia and other parts of the world.

India, with a population of over 1.3 billion, saw a record single-day jump in new cases for the seventh straight day.

Migrants and tourists await special trains and buses in Jaipur, India to return home amid the coronavirus lockdown. Source: Getty

It reported 6535 new infections Tuesday, raising its total to over 145,000, including close to 4200 deaths.

Most of India's cases are concentrated in the western states of Maharashtra, home to the financial hub of Mumbai, and Gujarat.

Infections have also climbed in the east as migrant workers stranded by lockdowns returned to their native villages from India's largest cities.

New York Stock Exchange reopens in symbolic step

The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange reopened on Tuesday in a largely symbolic step toward economic recovery, and stocks surged at the opening bell, even as the official US death toll from the coronavirus closed in on 100,000, a mark President Donald Trump once predicted the country would never see.

With infections mounting rapidly in places like Brazil and India, a top global health official warned that the crisis around the world is far from over.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, centre, applauds as he rings the opening bell of the New York Stock on May 26, 2020. Source: AP

The NYSE trading floor in lower Manhattan opened for the first time in two months, though with plexiglass barriers, masks and a reduced number of traders to adhere to the 6-foot social-distancing rules. Those entering the NYSE will have their temperatures taken and were asked to avoid public transportation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has presided over the state with the highest death toll from the scourge, rang the bell to set off trading.

"They didn't reopen the way it was," he said during his daily briefing. "They reopened smarter."

The rally took place as the government reported that US consumer confidence inched up this month, showing signs of stabilising. Still, it remains near a six-year low in the face of the widespread business shutdowns that have sent the economy into recession and driven unemployment to levels last seen during the Great Depression.

"The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule," US President Donald Trump tweeted. "There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!"

All 50 states have begun easing their stay-at-home restrictions and allowing businesses to open their doors again, even as some parts of the country see no drop-off in confirmed coronavirus cases. There is also some optimism about the race for a vaccine.

Brazil death toll could be much higher

In Brazil, where President Jair Bosonaro has raged against state and local leaders enforcing stay-at-home measures, WHO warned that before reopening the economy, authorities must have enough testing in place to control the spread of the virus.

Brazil has 375,000 coronavirus infections – second only to the 1.6 million cases in the US – and has counted over 23,000 deaths, but many fear Brazil's true toll is much higher.

Crosses mark the graves of those who have passed away since early April, filling a new section of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida public cemetery in Brazil. Source: AP

Ryan said Brazil's "intense" transmission rates means it should keep some stay-at-home measures in place, regardless of the damage to the economy.

"You must continue to do everything you can," he said.

A US travel ban was set to take effect Tuesday for foreigners coming from Brazil.

Bolsonaro has accused governors of inciting panic among the population with allegedly excessive stay-at-home recommendations and restrictions on commerce that he says will wreck the economy and produce worse hardship than the virus.

A patient who died from coronavirus, lies on a table between other COVID-19 patients in a room at the Salgado Filho Municipal Hospital in Rio de Janeiro. Source: AP

Russia reports a record one-day spike

In Europe, Russian's Vladimir Putin announced that the postponed military parade marking the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II will take place on June 24. 

Victory Day has become the most important holiday in Russia, traditionally marked on May 9 with a show of armed might in Red Square.

A worker wearing a face mask washes the equestrian statue of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great known as the Bronze Horseman in St Petersburg, Russia. Source: AP

Putin said the country has passed the peak of the outbreak.

Russia reported a record one-day spike Tuesday of 174 deaths, bringing the country's confirmed death toll to over 3800. Russia's coronavirus caseload surpassed 360,000 – the third-highest in the world – with almost 9000 new infections registered.

The country's comparatively low mortality rate has raised questions among experts. Russian officials vehemently deny manipulating any figures and attribute the low numbers to the effectiveness of the country's lockdowns.

True global death toll believed to be significantly higher

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.5 million people, killing over 346,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Europe has recorded about 170,000 deaths, while the US was approaching 100,000 over a span of less than four months, more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.

The true death toll is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of the virus without ever being tested for it.

Migrants stand in a queue as they wait for transport out of Jaipur, India amid the coronavirus lockdown. Source: Getty

Trump several months ago likened the coronavirus to the flu and dismissed worries it could lead to so many deaths. The administration's leading scientists have since warned that as many as 240,000 could perish from the virus.

In hard-hit New York, Cuomo reported a one-day total Tuesday of 73 deaths, the lowest figure in months, and down from a peak of nearly 800.

"In this absurd new reality, that is good news," he said.

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