Over 106,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported globally to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday, May 20, the highest number in a single day since the outbreak began in December, with the total count reaching the "tragic milestone" of 5 million reported infections.
Some parts of the world have started easing lockdowns as they slowly slide down the scale of new Covid-19 cases. However, the latest figures show that the global battle against Covid-19 is far from over.
“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said in a virtual conference on Wednesday, May 20.
Dr Tedros added that almost two-thirds of all the new cases were reported in just four countries. On Wednesday, Brazil saw nearly 20,000 new infections in 24 hours bringing its grand total to 233,140 cases, the third-highest number of national cases in the world, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University. In reality, however, Brazil’s recorded case numbers might be just the tip of the iceberg.
"Brazil is only testing people who end up in the hospital," Domingo Alves, a public health expert from the University of São Paulo Medical School, told AFP news agency last week. "It's hard to know what's really happening based on the available data. We don't have a real policy to manage the outbreak."
Russia’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have also crept up over the past couple of weeks. With over 315,000 recorded infections, the country has the second-highest number of cases in the world after the US. There are similar worries that the official number of cases in Russia might not reflect the true scale of their outbreak too.
Dr Tedros noted that the WHO was also “very concerned about the rising numbers of cases in low- and middle-income countries.” A WHO study released last week predicted that Africa could be on the precipice of a large number of cases, which many of its countries’ health systems will struggle to cope with.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The WHO also pointed to South Korea as one of the pandemic's success stories. While the country reported at least 11,000 cases, it managed to successfully contain the outbreak through extensive tracking and testing of every case. Dr Tedros said South Korea was able to roll out this strategy rapidly thanks, in part, to the lessons learned from the 2015 MERS outbreak.
Many other countries have also seen slowly declining case numbers. In one significant milestone for the UK, hospitals in London – once a hotspot for the outbreak – have reported no deaths in the past 48 hours and there were no new reported cases on Monday.
But the message is still: hold tight, there is still a long road ahead for us all.