WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (File photo: Xinhua)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that numerous countries are adopting the wrong approach in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a daily record of 230,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday, the UN health agency said the pandemic was only going to get worse unless people stuck to the basics of physical distancing, handwashing, wearing masks and staying home if sick.
WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: "I want to be straight with you - there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future."
"Let me blunt - too many countries are headed in the wrong direction. The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this."
He added that if governments did not act to suppress the transmission, and if people did not follow "the basics" it would result in the pandemic getting "worse and worse and worse."
The WHO boss said four scenarios were now playing out around the world.
They were: Countries that were alert and avoided large outbreaks, those that got a major outbreak under control, those that eased restrictions but were now suffering new infections, and those in an intense transmission phase.
He said the heart of the crisis at the moment remains the Americas - accounting for more than half of infections - but stressed it was never too late to bring "explosive transmission" under control.
On Monday a study led by researchers from King's College London said patients who recovered from coronavirus infections might lose their immunity within months.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said it was not yet known whether recovered COVID-19 patients could be infected again, but "with other coronaviruses, that is the case."
The organization has also sent a two-person mission to China to lay the groundwork for a study into the animal origins of the new coronavirus.
Ryan said it was assumed the virus came from a bat, but the intermediate animal host that transmitted it between bats and humans was not yet established, and they would follow the science.