As COVID cases rapidly rise, the World Health Organization warns that some countries may need to take drastic measures once again.
While the agency remains hopeful that most nations won't need to impose lockdowns, it stated that shutdowns of nonessential businesses similar to the ones imposed earlier this year may be necessary due to a resurgence of the novel virus worldwide, CNBC reports.
With COVID-19 cases accelerating worldwide in what’s being called a second wave, the agency said some countries may need to impose stricter measures as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.
These restrictions may include stay-at-home orders, curfews, and shutting down businesses.
“We’re well behind this virus,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a press conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “We will have to get ahead of this virus, and [that] may require sacrifice for many, many people in terms of their personal lives.”
As of Sunday, the average number of new daily cases in the United States hit a record. Per John Hopkins University data, the country is averaging 68,767 new cases per day, the highest seven-day average recorded yet.
Along with cases, hospitalizations are soaring.
CNBC analyzed the Hopkins data and found that infections were even higher in Europe than in the United States. On a seven-day average, Europe reported 324 new cases per 1 million people, while the U.S. reported 209 cases per 1 million people.
The WHO informed world leaders that an “economic recovery” isn’t possible if people continue living their lives “the way they did” before the pandemic.
“A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The agency also criticized some countries for not doing enough during the first wave of the pandemic, which they believe has led to spikes in present-day COVID cases.
“When we look across Europe as a whole, you could certainly ask yourself the question of whether there was enough invested through the first wave and ensuring there were full and adequate resources in each of those critical areas,” Ryan said.
“We are seeing a large number of cases, we are seeing widespread disease, we are seeing very, very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact tracing,” he added.
On Sunday, the government in Spain declared a national state of emergency that includes an overnight curfew, which will likely remain in place for six months, per the AP. Other European countries such as France are holding emergency meetings over growing cases as potential lockdowns loom.
Germany's Angela Merkel revealed her country is on the verge of losing its fight with the virus and said there would be "very difficult months ahead."
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the pandemic would have to get “really, really bad” before he could advise another national lockdown in the United States.