Pedestrians walk past a mural, with a message that reads: 'Which side are you on?,' in Sao Paulo. AP
"The world is in a new and dangerous phase," Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva. "The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible."
Aerial view showing a burial of a victim of COVID-19 at the General Cemetery in Santiago. AFP
More than 8.53 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 453,834 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1326 GMT on Friday.
Tedros, whose leadership of the WHO has been severely criticised by US President Donald Trump, urged people to maintain social distancing and "extreme vigilance."
As well as the Americas, a large number of new cases were coming from South Asia and the Middle East, Tedros added.
WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan drew attention to the situation in Brazil, where he said there had been 1,230 additional COVID-19 deaths in the previous 24 hours.
About 12 per cent of infections in Brazil involved healthcare workers, he added, praising their bravery.
Brazil has the world's worst outbreak outside the United States, with 978,142 confirmed cases and 47,748 deaths.
‘DIFFICULT JOURNEY’ TO VACCINE
With many nations easing restrictions but fearful of a second wave of infections, Ryan urged a gradual and scientific approach.
"Exiting lockdowns must be done carefully, in a step-wise manner, and must be driven by the data," he said. "If don't know where it is the chances are the virus will surprise you."
A woman rides past a mural painted on a garbage dump after the government eased a nationwide lockdown in New Delhi. AFP
Ryan said the resurgence of new clusters did not necessarily mean a second wave, while "second peaks" were also possible in one wave. The emergencies expert praised Germany, China and South Korea for their handling of the pandemic.
With trials underway around the world to find medicines and a vaccine for COVID-19, WHO officials warned that large-scale testing would be needed with side-effects carefully monitored.
"Although it is not impossible to find a vaccine ... it's going to be a very difficult journey," Tedros said.
It is the latest grim milestone after the novel coronavirus surfaced in central China in December 2019 and went on to infect more than 139 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.
Like millions of other Britons, the prime minister will be able to have a trim and a tipple on Saturday, when the country takes its biggest step yet out of coronavirus lockdown with the reopening in England of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, along with secular and sacred venues including cinemas and church.
Shortages of critical equipment led to fierce competition among buyers from Europe, the US and elsewhere. A regional leader in Paris described the scramble to find masks a “worldwide treasure hunt.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that New York could run out of ventilators in six days.
These included Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria; Jo?o Lourenço, President of Angola; Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana; Mohamed Hussein Robley, Prime Minister of Somalia, and His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
Former media executive Indrani Mukerjea — the prime accused in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora — added she was feeling better but had not made any future plans after getting enlarged on bail — in her 10th attempt since September 2016.
"There is no point in talking about how hard life is," said A.P.D. Sumanavathi, a 60-year-old woman selling fruit and vegetables in the Pettah market in Colombo, the commercial capital, on Friday.