Although January and February saw six consecutive weeks of plummeting covid-19 cases, the head of the UN health agency said that had gone into reverse, with last week yielding the fourth-highest number of cases in a single week so far.
"We have now seen seven consecutive weeks of increasing cases, and four weeks of increasing deaths," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists at a regular media briefing.
More than 780 million doses of vaccine have now been administered globally, but several Asian and Middle Eastern countries have seen large increases in infections, he said.
While acknowledging that vaccines are vital and powerful instruments, the WHO chief reiterated that they are not the only tools needed to defeat the coronavirus.
"Physical distancing works. Masks work. Hand hygiene works. Ventilation works. Surveillance, testing, contact tracing, isolation, supportive quarantine and compassionate care – they all work to stop infections and save lives," Tedros underscored.
While stressing the need for a consistent, coordinated and comprehensive approach in battling the virus, he said that “confusion, complacency and inconsistency in public health measures and their application, are driving transmission and costing lives.
WHO wants to see societies and economies reopening, and travel and trade resuming, instead it is witnessing intensive care units overflowing and people dying, which Tedros maintained is totally avoidable.
He said proven public health measures and strong systems that have enabled countries to respond rapidly and consistently, illustrate that covid-19 can be stopped and contained, adding that those nations are now able to enjoy sporting events, concerts, restaurants and seeing their family and friends safely.