The World Health Organization said Friday that countries may have to lock down again as COVID-19 cases continue to spike worldwide, with over 12 million now reported, more than double the amount reported six weeks ago.
“We all want to avoid whole countries going back into total lockdown, that is not a desire that anybody has,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, at a press conference Friday, CBS News reported. “But there may be situations in which that is the only option.”
Ryan called it the “fundamental question” facing every community and every nation.
“Once lockdowns were ended there was always the risk that the disease could bounce back,” he added.
The WHO, which President Trump took steps to withdraw from this week, has advised countries to open slowly, pay close attention to their data and proceed cautiously as they reopen.
“Accept the fact that in our current situation it is very unlikely that we can eradicate or eliminate this virus,” he said.
“When the virus is present there is a risk of spread,” he said.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said that several countries have also been brought back from severe outbreaks, including Italy, where more than 34,000 people died from the unchecked virus.
“Across all walks of life we’re all being tested to the limits,” Tedros said. “The best shot we have is to work together in national unity and global solidarity.”
The news came as confirmed cases in the US topped 3 million, more than any country in the world, and more than 133,000 Americans have been killed by the virus, also tops in the world.