The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that Sunday saw the highest number of new cases of coronavirus across the globe since the pandemic began.
More than 183,000 new cases were reported within a 24-hour time period around the world, WHO said, with Brazil tracking the highest amount during that time, counting 54,771 new cases. The United States had the second-highest single-day increase, according to WHO statistics, with 36,617 new cases during that period.
Since the pandemic started, more than 8.7 million individuals around the world have reportedly contracted COVID-19, with more than 461,000 people succumbing to the disease so far.
The overall numbers and the high rates of new infections underscore the importance of taking the disease more seriously. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, issued a strong warning to world leaders against “politicizing” the disease, and said what’s needed more than anything else at this juncture is a united front among nations to combat its spread.
“The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself, it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership. We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world,” Tedros said.
Unfortunately, some leaders around the world, including President Donald Trump, may not be heeding that advice.
On Saturday during his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the president suggested that he had asked White House officials to slow down testing for coronavirus because he was upset over seeing increases in rates of the disease.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please,'” Trump said.
Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro later claimed the comments were meant to be a joke, describing them as “tongue-in-cheek,” not to be taken seriously.
Campaign aides for Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential race, decried what the president had said over the weekend, with Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield arguing that Trump demonstrated “that he’s putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people.”
The United States has more cases of coronavirus than any other country. As of Monday morning, around 2.3 million Americans had contracted the disease, with more than 122,000 having died from COVID-19 since the pandemic reached the U.S.
It’s widely believed that those numbers are conservative estimates, as testing hasn’t been as widespread in the U.S. as it has been in other countries, and it’s likely that many people are unaware of whether they are infected. According to the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, initial infection rates in the U.S. might have been 10 or 20 times higher than what we had documented.
“There’s certainly under-diagnosis going on,” Gottlieb said in April.