London, June 10 (NYTIMES) – Two months ago, when there were roughly one million confirmed coronavirus cases and the primal politics of survival was sweeping the world, shutting down was the order of the day.
This week, the number of cases soared past seven million, with 136,000 new infections detected on Sunday (June 7) alone, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.
The order of the day? Reopening.
Terrified after watching economies built over the course of decades hollow out in a matter of weeks, countries seem to be saying, in effect: Enough.
For health officials who have been watching the virus with alarm as it began claiming a foothold in continent after continent, it is a dizzying moment.
“This is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, warned at a news conference in Geneva this week.
The crisis, he said, is “far from over”.
While infection rates in the hardest-hit cities in United States and Europe may have slowed, the virus remains deeply woven into the fabric of the world.
Indeed, the global peak of infection may still be months away.
In the absence of a vaccine or even effective treatments, the only proven strategy against the coronavirus to date has been limiting human contact.
Cities around the world have done just that, reaping the benefits as new infections dwindled and then gingerly lifting movement restrictions.