'It's getting worse': Ominous virus warning for the world

Australian Associated Press
·7-min read

The coronavirus pandemic raging across the globe will continue to worsen if countries fail to adhere to strict precautions, the World Health Organisation has warned in an unusually strong message to world leaders.

"Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from the UN agency's headquarters in Geneva.

"If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go – it is going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way."

Official global infections stand at 13 million with more than half a million deaths.

Mr Tedros, whose leadership has been heavily criticised by US President Donald Trump, said that of 230,000 new cases on Sunday, 80 per cent were from 10 nations, and 50 per cent from just two countries.

The United States and Brazil are the countries worst hit.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is pictured.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 'too many countries' are going in the wrong direction in how they approach the virus. Source: AAP

"There will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future ... There is a lot to be concerned about," Mr Tedros added on Monday, in some of his strongest comments of recent weeks.

Parts of the world, especially the United States with more than 3.3 million confirmed cases, are still seeing huge increases in a first wave of COVID-19 infections, while others have managed to "flattened the curve" and ease lockdowns.

A number of cities and countries around the world have been forced to re-tighten restrictions after case numbered began to tick up again.

Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, albeit with a low 1522 cases, is to tighten social distancing measures again amid growing worries about a third wave.

Cemetery workers in protective gear place the casket of 22-year-old COVID-19 victim Amanda da Silva into her grave site at the Caju cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cemetery workers bury a 22-year-old COVID-19 victim at the Caju cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in May. Source: AAP

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10.

In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

Coronavirus infections were rising in about 40 US states, according to a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.

Yet US President Donald Trump and White House officials have repeatedly said the disease is under control and that schools must reopen.

Since the first cases were reported in China around the new year, it took three months to reach one million cases. It has taken just five days to climb to 13 million cases from 12 million recorded on July 8.

India, the country with the third-highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 23,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

Australians warned after Victoria’s lockdown

Victoria's return to tough restrictions shows the need for all Australians to step up efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, the federal government has warned.

Melbourne recorded an eighth consecutive day of triple-figure coronavirus infection increases on Monday as Sydney deals with concerning disease spot fires.

Victorian authorities reported 177 new cases on Monday, a decrease from last week's high of 288.

Federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, whose seat of Deakin is in Melbourne, said the return to tight restrictions had been "demoralising".

"I think 'demoralising' is probably the word," he told the ABC.

"I'm hoping that we can use that feeling to motivate us all to do the right thing, to make sure that this is the last lockdown."

Melburnians exercise along Elwood Beach in Melbourne, Australia.
Melburnians walk along Elwood Beach in Melbourne during lockdown on Monday. Source: Getty Images

Prior to the spike in cases, Australians' personal stress, anxiety and loneliness was starting to lift.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday just 24 per cent of those surveyed reported experiencing one or more sources of personal stress in June, compared to 43 per cent in April.

Significantly fewer people reported feelings associated with anxiety and depression in June compared to April.

"Now that some parts of the country are either having to reinstate some restrictions or put a pause on easing them it will be important to understand what impact this is likely to have on people's mental health," head of ABS household surveys Michelle Marquardt said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he hoped people across every state took heed of the uptick in cases.

"We don't want to have to go back, but that requires everybody to keep showing that discipline," he told 2GB radio.

COVID-19 testing is carried out at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula in Sydney, Australia.
Testing at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula. Source: Getty Images

NSW is being closely watched after reporting 21 cases on Monday, most of which were linked to the Crossroads Hotel in southwest Sydney.

Health authorities are examining whether a Victorian person was the source.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott has issued a stern warning to the hospitality industry as well as patrons after the escalation of cases at pubs and clubs.

"We cannot afford to have these sorts of slips when it comes to the restrictions that are in place allowing our hospitality industry to begin the road to recovery," he told reporters in Sydney.

"Patrons also have to take responsibility. If we have to close hotels and pubs again the patrons will have to take some of the ownership of that."

Medical staff at a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic, perform tests on drivers in the Sydney suburb of Casula, Australia.
A number of NSW's latest cases have been linked to people at the hotel. Source: Getty Images

A further 1000 Australian Defence Force personnel will be sent to Victoria in a bid to help Melbourne control its coronavirus outbreak.

The reinforcements are on top of 350 troops already working across the state to help ring fence Melbourne during the city's second lockdown and boost testing efforts.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the personnel would work on isolation, testing and checkpoint control.

Queensland reported one case of COVID-19, a person who acquired it overseas and is in hotel quarantine.

South Australia reconsiders borders

The future of South Australia's COVID-19 border restrictions with NSW and the ACT will come under scrutiny with the state's transition committee to consider extending quarantine measures for both regions.

SA is due to lift restrictions from July 20, but a cluster of cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel has put that in doubt.

The transition committee will consider the issue on Tuesday but Premier Steven Marshall says there's a question mark over the existing timetable.

"We've got to have a very close look at what's happening with that cluster, that's raising some real queries," he said.

"We've just got to see if there is a significant escalation between now and the 20th of July.

"But if it's not safe to lift our border restrictions then we will not be doing so."

Charlotte Taylor holds Edith at the Adelaide Zoo.
Residents explore Adelaide Zoo after it reopened. Source: AAP

SA has previously lifted the quarantine restrictions for people coming from Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

But it has imposed a hard border closure with Victoria, only allowing locals to return and essential travellers through, because of the surge of infections in Melbourne.

From Saturday, South Australia will also move to start charging Australians returning from overseas for the cost of their 14 days of supervised quarantine.

Individuals will be charged $3000 with their partners to be billed $1000 and $500 for each child.

Mr Marshall says SA is still keen to participate with the national repatriation program but those arriving from Saturday will be asked to pay for their hotel stay.

SA reported no new coronavirus cases on Monday.

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