The World Health Organization (WHO) urged all people to protest “safely” and wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it warned the biggest threat in the ongoing outbreak “was now complacency”.
Demonstrations over the death of black man George Floyd have erupted in the US and Europe, sparked fears of a new COVID-19 spike.
“WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. We reject discrimination of all kinds. We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
“As much as possible, keep at least one metre from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest,” he added.
Speaking at the UN health agency’s regular coronavirus briefing, the WHO chief said that more than 100,000 new cases a day of coronavirus had been reported on nine of the past ten days.
“Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening,” Tedros said.
Nearly three-quarters of cases reported on Sunday were detected in ten countries, concentrated in the Americas and South Asia.
Coronavirus measures have gradually started lifting with restaurants and shops reopening across Europe.
“More than six months into the pandemic this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” Tedros added in the online briefing.
WHO said while successes should be “celebrated” the pandemic is “far from over” and that countries can learn from COVID-19 in terms of training for health workers and infrastructure.