Geneva, July 27: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday declared COVID-19 as the "most severe" global health emergency. The announcement came shortly after the worldwide coronavirus tally crossed the 16 million-mark, with an addition of over 10,00,000 infections in the past four days. India Reports Highest Single-Day Spike of 49,931 COVID-19 Cases, Coronavirus Tally Inches Closer to 1.5 Million.

This is the sixth time when the WHO has declared a global health emergency, but the pandemic is now at the most severe stage, said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the virtual press briefing today.

"Almost 16 million cases have now been reported to WHO, and more than 640,000 deaths. And the pandemic continues to accelerate. In the past 6 weeks, the total number of cases has roughly doubled," he said.

The WHO chief warned people across the world against lowering their guards against the virus. "Keep your distance from others, clean your hands, avoid crowded and enclosed areas, and wear a mask where recommended. Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they’re not, cases go up," he added.

Ghebreyesus, under fire from US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, issued a veiled retort saying that the caseload went down in nations where the precautionary measures were not thoroughly implemented.

On the other hand, the health crisis escalated in parts of the world where the safety norms - as enlisted by the WHO - were not adhered to, he added.

"Countries and communities that have followed this advice carefully and consistently have done well, either in preventing large-scale outbreaks – like Cambodia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Viet Nam, and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean – or in bringing large outbreaks under control – like Canada, China, Germany and the Republic of Korea," he pointed out.

"The bottom line is that one of the most fundamental ingredients for stopping this virus is determination, and the willingness to make hard choices to keep ourselves and each other safe. Over the past 6 months, WHO has worked tirelessly to support countries to prepare for and respond to this virus," Ghebreyesus said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 27, 2020 08:56 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website