- WHO laments US pullout
- 5m Aussies under lockdown
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that a divided planet could not conquer the coronavirus crisis after the US formally started its withdrawal from the UN agency.
READ: World Roundup: US exits WHO; critics outraged
“We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world... Together is the solution unless we want to give the advantage to the enemy, to the virus that has taken the world hostage,” he said at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.
Faced criticism for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, the WHO had launched an independent pandemic response panel headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity,” Tedros added.
READ: Ignoring outrage, Trump makes good on WHO pullout
5 million Aussies under lockdown
Five million people in Australia’s second-biggest city began a new lockdown Thursday, returning to tough restrictions just weeks after they ended as Melbourne grappled with a resurgence of coronavirus cases.
READ: Five million begin lockdown in Australian city
Residents have been told to stay at home for six weeks after other measures to contain a spike in COVID-19 failed to prevent the virus spreading.
The state of Victoria, which announced a further 165 new cases Thursday, has been effectively sealed off in an effort to preserve the rest of Australia’s success in curbing the virus.
However, a rush of travelers across the border into neighboring New South Wales on Wednesday has raised concerns those efforts could be torpedoed. Police said about 30,000 cars made the crossing in less than 36 hours.
Queensland state announced Thursday it would turn away all travelers from Victoria – removing an option that had allowed them to spend 14 days in quarantine on arrival.
Global cases breach 12 million mark
Global coronavirus cases have surged past 12 million Thursday, according to an AFP tally.
The United States topped three million confirmed coronavirus cases as President Donald Trump pushed for schools to re-open amid a COVID-19 resurgence in many southern hotspots.
The US remains by far the worst affected country, with over 132,000 deaths, while Brazil – whose virus-skeptic President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the disease – is a distant second with close to 67,000 deaths from almost 1.7 million cases.
READ: United States adds 55,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
Trump called for students to return to their schools in the fall and lashed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for issuing guidance that he said was too restrictive.
The agency’s head later said the guidelines were “not requirements” and that the CDC would soon update its advice.
France rules out ‘total lockdown’
The French government said it was girding for a possible surge in coronavirus cases in the coming months but ruled out another nationwide lockdown.
“My aim is to prepare France for a possible second wave while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life,” new Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview on RTL television.
“But we’re not going to impose a lockdown like the one we did last March, because we’ve learned... that the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous,” he said.
Instead, business closures or stay-at-home orders would be “targeted” to specific areas, Castex added.