Published: 10:07, August 3, 2020 | Updated: 21:02, June 5, 2023
WHO chief: There might be no 'silver bullet' for COVID-19
By Agencies

This shows World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking at the WHO headquaters in Geneva on March 16, 2020. (PHOTO / AFP)

BUENOS AIRES / ASUNCION / BOGOTA / LONDON / PRISTINA / NICOSIA / WASHINGTON / OSLO / BERLIN / WARSAW / GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA / TBILISI - Although a number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials, there's no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be for COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said on Monday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference that for now, stopping COVID-19 outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control, including testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference that for now, stopping COVID-19 outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control, including testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts.

"For individuals, it's about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others -- Do it all," he urged.

The WHO chief told reporters that most people in the world remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.

In the past weeks the WHO chief has repeatedly stressed that although the world has changed, the basic measures needed to suppress transmission and save lives have not -- find, isolate, test and care for cases, and trace and quarantine their contacts.

"Countries and communities that have followed this advice carefully and consistently have done well, either in preventing large-scale outbreaks -- like Cambodia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean -- or in bringing large outbreaks under control, like Canada, China, Germany and the Republic of Korea," he said earlier last week.

On July 31, the WHO Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met and reviewed the current pandemic, and based on the advice of the Committee, Tedros announced that the COVID-19 outbreak still constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 

Global tally

Global coronavirus cases topped 18 million Monday as the pandemic is now adding a million infections about every four days, prompting more lockdowns.

Total COVID-19 cases around the world rose to 18,109,901, according to the CSSE, with deaths reaching 690,055 as of 9:34 a.m. (1334 GMT).

Global COVID-19 deaths surpassed 690,000 on Monday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The United States is the worst-hit country with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths, followed by Brazil. 

Besides the two countries, other nations with more than 400,000 cases include India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Peru, according to the CSSE. 


The number of COVID-19 related deaths in the African continent reached 20,288 as the number of COVID-19 cases in the continent reached 957,035 on Monday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, in its latest situation update issued on Monday, said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the continent rose from 944,450 on Sunday to 957,035 as of Monday.

The Africa CDC report also said that the number of deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic rose to 20,288 deaths on Monday, up from 19,920 on Sunday.

The continental disease control and prevention agency stressed that some 611,957 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far.

South Africa is Africa's highest affected country in terms of positive cases with 511,485 cases followed by Egypt with 94,483 cases and Nigeria with 43, 841 cases.

The North African nations of Algeria and Morocco have also recorded high numbers of COVID-19 with 30,909 and 25,537 confirmed COVID-19 cases respectively.

The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, respectively, the Africa CDC said.

Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent, the Africa CDC on Tuesday said 34 African countries are under "full border closure" in an effort to halt the spread of the infectious virus.

Wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, locals line up to receive handouts of produce and basic supplies in the Sol Nascente community, on the outskirts of Brasilia, Brazil, Aug 2, 2020. (ERALDO PERES / AP)

Latin America

Argentina broke past 200,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday and Colombia set a daily record as grim milestones topple in Latin America, pushing the world's worst affected region towards a combined 5 million cases.

The region, which topped 200,000 deaths on Saturday, has struggled to stall the spread of the novel coronavirus, with infections picking up pace in many countries even as governments look to ease lockdowns and revive economic growth.

The region, which topped 200,000 deaths on Saturday, has struggled to stall the spread of the coronavirus, with infections picking up pace in many countries even as governments look to ease lockdowns and revive economic growt

Latin America, which has some 8 percent of the world's population, accounts for close to 30 percent of global cases and fatalities, with infections still spreading fast and hitting regional leaders like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and Bolivia's Jeanine Anez.

Colombia in the last week passed 300,000 cases and 10,000 fatalities. Argentina, which had early success slowing the spread of the virus, has seen a recent spike in infections. Five Latin American countries are now in the global top 10 for cases, according to a Reuters tally.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: WHO expects long-term response efforts

Brazil, the worst hit country in the region and the second-worst worldwide, has over 2.73 million cases and more than 94,000 deaths.

The giant South American nation, which set a daily record for new cases last week, posted a lower total of 25,800 cases on Sunday, which looked likely to keep the wider region from breaching the 5 million mark until Monday. Deaths in the country rose by 541 to 94,104.

Mexico logged over 9,000 new infections from the virus on Saturday and is now the country with the third most deaths worldwide.

Peru, which recently exceeded 400,000 cases, has seen a dangerous resurgence in infections after relaxing quarantine restrictions in a bid to revive a collapsed economy. It posted 7,448 cases on Saturday, the highest since late May.

Around the region, already brittle healthcare systems are straining or overloaded, while economic growth is set to plunge around 9 percent, pushing up poverty and unemployment.


Algeria on Sunday reported 515 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the infection tally to 31,465, with 1,231 deaths.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad said that Algeria "will be among the first countries to acquire the anti-COVID-19 vaccine," the official APS news agency reported.

In a meeting held on Sunday to explore the market for anti-coronavirus vaccines, the prime minister said that his country has made contacts with some countries that have made progress in research for the production of the vaccine.

READ MORE: When it comes to COVID shots, rich nations are first in line


Argentina’s coronavirus cases exceeded 200,000. The country reported 5,376 new infections, bringing the total to 201,919. 

An additional 36 deaths were recorded, for a total fatality count of 3,648.


Armenia on Monday reported 52 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 39,102, according to the country's center for disease control.

Data from the center showed that 111 more patients have recovered in the past day, bringing the total number of recoveries to 29,861.


Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and part of his cabinet are working from home after a member of the support staff tested positive. 

The staff member and two coworkers who were in close contact with him are quarantined at home. 

Kurz tested negative over the weekend and will return to the office after a second test later this week, according to the chancellery.


Belarus reported 99 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking its total to 68,166, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 47 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 62,943, the ministry said.


Chile on Sunday reported that a total of 359,731 people in the country have tested positive for COVID-19 and 9,608 have died of the disease.

According to the Health Ministry's daily report, in the previous 24 hours, 2,081 new cases were detected and 75 deaths were recorded.

A total of 17,712 cases are considered active while 332,411 people have recovered, according to the health authorities.


Colombia's Ministry of Health on Sunday reported that the country has tallied a total of 317,651 COVID-19 cases, with 139,037 cases considered active.

The death toll rose to 10,650 after 320 more people died of the disease in the past 24 hours.

As many as 11,470 new cases were detected in the same 24-hour period, including 4,447 in Bogota, 2,279 in the department of Antioquia and 642 in the Valle del Cauca department.

The total number of recoveries rose to 167,239. 


Cyprus will introduce compulsory testing for all arrivals from Greece from Aug 6, health authorities said on Sunday, after a spike in coronavirus infections in Greece over the past week.

The health ministry said any travelers from Greece would be required to show a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of travel to Cyprus. Cypriots and permanent residents of Cyprus could opt for a test at airports upon their arrival.

The move comes at the height of the holiday season. Greece is a popular holiday destination for thousands of Cypriots.

On Saturday Greece reported its highest single-day spike in weeks, of 110 new cases, while Cyprus reported 25 new cases on Friday, the first time it has been in double digits in weeks.

READ MORE: WHO: Impact of coronavirus will be felt for decades to come

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic on Sunday said a total of 72,243 people in the country have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,178 have died from the disease.

A total of 828 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours and eight more fatalities were reported, the Public Health Ministry said.

Out of those who have been diagnosed, 6,053 have been hospitalized, with 325 patients requiring intensive care, while 26,768 have been told to self-isolate at home.

The number of recoveries in the country stood at 38,244.  


Egypt reported on Sunday 167 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily increase since April 22, raising the tally to 94,483, said the Health Ministry.

Another 31 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 4,865, while 1,318 others were cured and discharged from hospitals, taking the number of recoveries to 42,455, the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement.


Ethiopia’s government blamed protests and violence over the killing of a prominent musician in June for a spike in COVID-19 cases and said it would redouble testing.

“Following the conflicts and protests of the recent weeks, we are seeing the equivalent of monthly case numbers in just a few days,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on the state broadcasting network.

Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 18,706 on Sunday after 707 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours.

Another 28 deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 310, while recoveries rose by 406 to 7,601, according to the health ministry.

Ethiopia officially launched on Sunday a nationwide monthlong testing campaign, which the Ethiopian government said "will determine the next steps to undertake in the new year".

People sit along the Promenade des Anglais watching parasailing at the French riviera city of Nice, July 10, 2020. (VALERY HACHE / AFP)


People will have to wear masks outdoors in many of the major areas of the southern French city of Nice, Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Monday, including parts of the tourist spot of the Promenade des Anglais.

The measures for Nice coincide with similar new rules to make the wearing of masks compulsory outdoors in several major French cities, as France looks to fight against a resurgence of COVID-19.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex was in the northern French city of Lille on Monday, which also made the wearing of masks compulsory in much of Lille's pedestrian areas and parks.


Georgia confirmed two new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing its total to 1,179.

One of the two new patients had contact with an infected individual and was under quarantine, while the other one does not know how he contracted the virus, the country's center for disease control said.

As of Monday, 959 of the 1,179 patients have recovered, while 17 died, the center said.


Mandatory testing of travelers returning to Germany from countries with a high risk of COVID-19 infection will take effect later this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

"We have first drafts. We want to coordinate this well with the states because they need to be able to implement it at airports and train stations," he told German broadcaster ARD on Monday.

Spahn's remarks came as the number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 509 to 210,402, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

The reported death toll rose by seven to 9,148, the tally showed.


Honduras will extend its coronavirus curfew for another week through to Aug 9 in an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic, the security ministry said on Sunday.

Honduras first imposed a curfew, which is in daily effect between 5 pm (2300 GMT) and 7 am (1300 GMT), in March.

The country has so far reported 43,197 confirmed cases and 1,368 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Ireland is considering additional measures to limit non-essential travel in the wake of an uptick in COVID-19 infections in recent days both in Ireland and other European countries, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Sunday.

Ireland already advises against all non-essential international travel and requires people arriving from all but 15 countries to self-isolate for 14 days, but it does not require COVID-19 tests from visitors and has not banned flights from any country.

Ireland has so far reported 26,162 confirmed cases and 1,763 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.


Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Sunday he has contracted COVID-19 and will self-isolate at home for two weeks.

"I don't have symptoms expect a very mild cough," Hoti said on his Facebook page.

Hoti's government has faced criticism for not doing enough to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with the small Balkan country reporting a sharp increase in cases in the past few days -- including 13 deaths on Sunday.

Around 9,000 people have been infected with the new coronavirus and 249 have died since mid-March, when the first cases with the virus were reported in the small Balkan country.


Mexico's health ministry on Sunday reported 4,853 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and 274 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 439,046 cases and 47,746 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

A man wearing a protective mask sprays sanitizers over the cars arriving for a Sunday Mass at a drive-in cinema in Cuernavaca, Morelos, in Mexico, Aug 2, 2020. Parishioners can listen to the Mass in the safety of their own car by just tuning to FM 88.1 on their radios. (MARCO UGARTE / AP)


Morocco on Sunday reported 522 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections in the country to 25,537.

The total number of recoveries increased to 18,435 after 475 new ones were added, while the death toll rose to 382 with the addition of 15 fatalities, said Abdelkrim Meziane Belfkih, head of the department of epidemic diseases at the Ministry of Health, at a press briefing.


The Norwegian police announced on Monday that they will start investigating the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian cruise ship, according to Norsk TV2.

Thirty-six crew members and four passengers on board the MS Roald Amundsen have been confirmed to be COVID-19 positive days after their return from a scenic voyage. Thirty-three of the infected crew members are from the Philippines, a nation hit hard by the virus, and three from France, Norway and Germany, according to a press release from the ship's owner Hurtigruten late Sunday.

The first case of the coronavirus onboard the cruise ship occurred last Wednesday and was discovered in a crew member.

The Institute of Public Health, on the same day, swiftly advised the Hurtigruten to notify all passengers on board the cruise ship of the possibility of an infection, according to the Norsk TV2.

"The infection control doctor notified the captain and the ship doctor on both the first and second voyages. In addition, we notified the 'officer of hygiene' on the second voyage. We also had conversations with a communications consultant at Hurtigruten," said municipal doctor Ingebjorn Bleidvin.

However, it was only when the cruise ship sailed into the port of Tromso, 1,757 km north of Oslo, last Friday that passengers of the voyage were finally informed.

"I was not aware of the advice from the National Institute of Public Health," said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, on the belated notification to passengers to Norsk TV2.

Meanwhile, public health officials in Norway are deeply concerned that as many as 69 Norwegian municipalities could be affected by the cruise ship outbreak since the MS Roald Amundsen made 35 ports of call on its 12-day voyage along a route known as "The World's Most Beautiful Sea Journey".

Since last Friday, 386 passengers and crew on board the MS Roald Amundsen have been in quarantine.

"It is difficult to prevent the infection from spreading on board a ship," Norsk Tv2 quoted Orjan Olsvik, professor of medical microbiology at the Faculty of Health Sciences of Norwegian Arctic University, as saying.

Norway has reported more than 9,200 cases of COVID-19 and 255 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Peru on Sunday said a total of 428,850 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the country after 3,657 new cases were detected in the previous day.

The country's death toll has risen to 19,614, according to the Health Ministry.

Health authorities have conducted 2,404,046 tests to detect the virus. Among those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, 13,743 people required hospitalization, including 1,410 on ventilators in intensive care units.


Restrictions in regions with more coronavirus cases could involve stricter limits for clients in restaurants, public gatherings and schools, Polish cabinet spokesperson Piotr Muller told TVN24 broadcaster. 

Stricter rules, including possibly higher penalties for ignoring sanitary and social-distancing rules, would be in place in a week or two.

Separately, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said police health authorities would start checks in shops this week to see if people are following regulations to keep their mouths and noses covered.

Poland has so far reported 46,894 confirmed cases and 1,731 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

ALSO READ: Virus: EU readies up to US$53m to boost collection of plasma


Portugal is in talks with the British government to try to lift a rule that requires anyone arriving in England from the southern European country to self-isolate for two weeks.

Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday that she wasn’t sure when the UK would revise its quarantine rule even as the coronavirus situation in the country continues to evolve positively. The British rank as the biggest group of visitors to Portugal.

“We do not believe that the quarantine is the real solution,” said Marques. “People should be tested and if that’s not possible they should comply with the rules when they come to Portugal.”

Portugal has reported 51,463 confirmed cases and 1,738 deaths so far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Russia reported 5,394 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, pushing its national tally to 856,264, the fourth largest in the world.

Officials said 79 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 14,207.

South Sudan

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Sudan has gone up from 1,188 to 2,429 since April 5 due to expanded testing, officials said on Sunday.

"If we try to compare this week and last week, we registered only 82 cases last week but starting from July 26 to yesterday, the centers in the country have tested 755 samples and out this number 143 tested positive for COVID-19," Matthew Tut, manager of emergency operation centre at the public health emergency centre, said during a briefing in Juba.

He said that the Central Equatoria state, where the capital Juba is located, is one of the most affected in South Sudan with more than 2,000 cases, followed by the Eastern Equatoria state with more than 84 cases.

The death toll in South Sudan stood at 46, Tut said.


Switzerland should tighten restrictions to curb the coronavirus again following a recent spike in cases, in order to prevent the need for much harsher lockdown measures in future, the new head of the country's coronavirus taskforce said.

Switzerland has seen the number of new cases of COVID-19 surge to more than 200 a day recently after an average of 35 per day in June.

Martin Ackermann, who heads the body that provides scientific advice to the Swiss government, said the country was on the brink of a big increase in infections and had little room to manoeuvre.

Switzerland has reported 35,000 confirmed cases and 1,707 deaths.

Ackermann, who took over as head of the taskforce on Saturday, said he supported making it mandatory to wear face masks indoors. He also said that the size of public gatherings should be limited again.

Hot air balloons fly over Bristol as part of a mass ascent, with 43 balloon teams taking part, for a Fiesta Flypast over the British city as part of the socially distanced alternative to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta on Aug 3, 2020. (BEN BIRCHALL / PA VIA AP)


The government will act if the coronavirus spreads through London as it has done in other parts of Britain, junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday.

Zahawi's remarks came a day after Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the country was looking at all options for tackling flare-ups of the coronavirus and will use regional data to target its response, following newspaper reports that a London-wide lockdown is being considered if cases spike in the capital.

Earlier Monday, Health Minister Matt Hancock said that millions of COVID-19 tests able to detect the virus within 90 minutes will be rolled out to British hospitals, care homes and laboratories to boost capacity in the coming months. They will comprise 5.8 million tests using DNA and 450,000 swab tests. Neither will need to be administered by a health professional, said Hancock.

"We are on track to deliver half a million tests a day by the end of October but new technologies like these two will help us to accelerate that," Hancock said.

READ MORE: Reports: UK weighs London lockdown in worst-case scenario

Separately, the publicly-funded National Health Service said it would be offering "COVID-friendly" treatments to cancer patients, including drugs that do not have a big impact on the immune system.

Meanwhile in Manchester, a major incident has been declared, allowing the creation of a "central command structure" to help tackle the rising number ofcoronavirus cases, a local official was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The UK has recorded more than 306,000 confirmed cases and over 46,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


The United States is in a new phase of the novel coronavirus outbreak with infections "extraordinarily widespread" in rural areas as well as cities, White House coronavirus experts said on Sunday.

“We are in a new phase,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force coordinator. “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread” in rural as well as urban areas.

Birx said people living in multigenerational households in an area that is experiencing an outbreak should wear masks inside the home to protect the elderly or those with underlying conditions.

Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant Health and Human Services secretary also stressed the importance of wearing masks. If people wear masks and avoid crowds, Giroir said, it gives the same outcome as a complete shutdown.

Giroir also said that there’s no evidence that hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug frequently touted by President Donald Trump, is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The coronavirus has infected more than 4.6 million people in the United States and killed nearly 155,000 Americans, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Zambia reported 233 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed tally to 6,580, as the health ministry urged people to abide by preventive measures to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya blamed the rapid surge in infections on large crowds and people's failure to stick to social distancing.

Adherence to preventive measures is not negotiable and there will be enhanced enforcement, he told a briefing on COVID-19.