Bangkok: As Brazil and India struggle with surging coronavirus cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) top health expert is warning that the world is still in the very middle of the outbreak, dampening hopes for a speedy global economic rebound and renewed international travel. 

“Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,” said Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s executive director. “We’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up,” Ryan said, pointing to South America, South Asia and other parts of the world. 

He also warned that countries where infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on lockdown measures.

In Brazil, where President Jair Bosonaro has raged against state and local leaders enforcing stay-at-home measures, WHO warned that before reopening the economy, authorities must have enough testing in place to control the spread of the virus. 

Brazil has 3,75,000 coronavirus infections and has counted over 23,000 deaths, but many fear Brazil’s true toll is much higher. “You must continue to do everything you can,” Ryan said.

Ryan said Brazil’s “intense" transmission rates means it should keep some stay-at-home measures in place, regardless of the negative impacts on its economy. “You must continue to do everything you can," he said.

A US travel ban was taking effect Tuesday for foreigners coming from Brazil, moved up two days earlier than its original date. It does not apply to US citizens.

Meanwhile, President Putin announced that the postponed military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II will take place on June 24. Putin said the country has passed the peak of the outbreak. 

Meanwhile, seven public media outlets from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia said they will work to beat back “the proliferation, particularly on social networks, of fake news” about COVID-19.