The World Health Organization on Friday urged countries hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities on the ground instead of bickering, and to "take control".
"People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists at a briefing hosted by the UN correspondents' association in Geneva, according to AFP.
Asked about the dire situations in nations like Brazil and Mexico, which have been moving away from lockdowns despite ballooning numbers of infections and deaths, Ryan cautioned that "too many countries are ignoring what the data is telling them".
"There are good economic reasons that the countries need to bring their economies back online," he added.
"It's understandable, but you can't ignore the problem either. The problem will not magically go away."
While he acknowledged that countries facing explosive outbreaks had some "pretty stark choices" ahead, he insisted that "it is never too late in an epidemic to take control".
Instead of placing an entire nation under lockdown, he suggested that countries could try to break down the problem.
It could be possible to loosen restrictions in areas with lower transmission rates and still contain the outbreak through things like physical distancing, hand-washing, testing, isolating cases and contact tracing.
But in areas where the virus is spreading uncontrollably, strict measures could be unavoidable, he said.
"If countries proceed with opening up without the capacity to cope with the likely caseload, then you end up in a worst-case scenario," Ryan warned, adding, "If the health system stops coping, more people will die."
In the case of Brazil, which counts almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, second only to the United States, Ryan meanwhile said that the numbers had "stabilized", meaning they are no longer rising as steeply, but they are "still rising".
He also stressed that despite "fighting a large number of cases for a long time now," Brazil's hospitals and intensive care units had not yet been overwhelmed.
The coronavirus has hit at least 10.8 million people and killed 521,000 worldwide. The Americas are the hardest-hit region, with most cases and deaths registered in the United States, and numbers skyrocketing in a several countries in Latin America.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)