Record one-day rise in coronavirus cases amid failure to heed warnings

Pandemic exposes failure to take prevention, preparedness and response seriously: Report

People visit the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, on Sept 13, 2020.
People visit the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, on Sept 13, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GENEVA • The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from India, the United States and Brazil, according to the agency's website. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.

Meanwhile, a collective failure by political leaders to heed warnings and prepare for an infectious disease pandemic has transformed "a world at risk" to a "world in disorder", according to a report on international epidemic preparedness.

"Financial and political investments in preparedness have been insufficient, and we are all paying the price," said the report by The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB).

"It is not as if the world has lacked the opportunity to take these steps," it added. "There have been numerous calls for action... over the last decade, yet none has generated the changes needed."

The GPMB, co-convened by the World Bank and WHO, is chaired by former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Last year, the board's report that was released a few months before the coronavirus emerged in China said there was a real threat of "a rapidly spreading pandemic due to a lethal respiratory pathogen" and warned that such an event could kill millions and wreak havoc on the global economy.

This year's report - entitled A World In Disorder - said global leaders had never before "been so clearly forewarned of the dangers of a devastating pandemic", and yet they had failed to take adequate action.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed "a collective failure to take pandemic prevention, preparedness and response seriously and prioritise it accordingly", it said.

"Pathogens thrive in disruption and disorder. Covid-19 has proven the point."

The report noted that despite calling a year ago for heads of government to commit and invest in pandemic preparedness, for health systems to be strengthened and for financial risk planning to take seriously the threat of a devastating pandemic, little progress had been made on any of these.

DISRUPTION AND DISORDER

Pathogens thrive in disruption and disorder. Covid-19 has proven the point.

THE GLOBAL PREPAREDNESS MONITORING BOARD REPORT

 
 

A lack of leadership, it said, is exacerbating the current pandemic.

"Failure to learn the lessons of Covid-19 or to act on them with the necessary resources and commitment will mean that the next pandemic, which is sure to come, will be even more damaging," it said.

Signs of the continued expert warnings being ignored could be seen around the world in recent days.

In the US presidential campaign, President Donald Trump held a rally in Nevada at an indoor venue on Sunday despite public health professionals' warnings against such gatherings. Most people in the crowd were seated close together and many did not wear masks.

In France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin criticised fans of football club Olympique Marseille for celebrating en masse on the streets of the city yesterday, after Marseille beat Paris Saint Germain, given the risks from Covid-19.

Marseille is among the mainland French cities hardest hit by the virus' resurgence.

Separately, experts have described as dangerous and premature the Philippines' decision to cut the social distancing minimum to 30cm on public transport, as the country saw another daily record in new deaths.

This is a third of the 1m minimum distance requirement advised by experts.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2020, with the headline 'Record one-day rise in virus cases amid failure to heed warnings'. Print Edition | Subscribe