As nations unwind from lockdown measures implemented in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization has called on governments and individuals to be very vigilant, saying that the highly contagious disease is still spreading rapidly.

The world has entered a new and dangerous phase of the pandemic, a top official from the WHO on Friday disclosed, a strong warning that came as the United States struggled to control spiraling outbreaks and as business leaders signaled growing worries with the country's capability to effectively curb the virus.

Coronavirus cases rose significantly across the American South and West, especially in areas that eased restrictions on businesses several weeks ago.

According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing on Friday, the pandemic is speeding up. "Over 150,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday, the most in a single day so far," Ghebreyesus said, as reported in The Hill by Marty Johnson.

Many people have been understandably fed up with staying at home and nations have been anxious to open up their economies and communities, but the disease is still accelerating and is still very deadly, and most people are still vulnerable, Ghebreyesus warned.

The WHO chief urged people to continue observing social distancing, proper hand-washing, and wearing of face mask and remaining at home if they don't feel well.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina, daily reports of new COVID-19 cases hit their highest peaks of the pandemic this week. Texas, which has witnessed known cases to double during the past few weeks, emerged as the sixth state to breach the 100,000 mark, a New York Times database of coronavirus cases in the US, revealed. 

An increase in coronavirus cases also caused Apple Inc to reclose 11 shops temporarily across four states. AMC, on the other hand, reversed an earlier decision and announced it will now require customers to wear face masks when the cinema chain reopens in July.

In Beijing, a new outbreak of the virus that originated from the largest producing market in the city led the Chinese government to shut down schools and businesses while also locking up residential areas around it.

WHO officials have confirmed that the coronavirus sequence in the current outbreak in Beijing is most likely linked to the European strain.

Speaking at a media conference early Friday, WHO Health Emergencies Program executive director Dr. Michael Ryan, disclosed the outbreak in the mainland appears to be a human-to-human transmission rather than another cross-species infection.