Global COVID-19 cases cross 5 million; WHO reports record one-day jump in infections
WHO head Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said that more cases had been reported to the agency in the past 24 hours than any time since the novel coronavirus pandemic began.
Global coronavirus cases have surpassed 5 million and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern saying that more cases had been reported to the agency in the past 24 hours than any time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The global health body on Wednesday said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the previous 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.
“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries.”
Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, had earlier said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases”.
The WHO has come under fire from US President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and of favouring China, where the virus is believed to have emerged late last year. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.
Tedros acknowledged receiving a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further. He said he was committed to accountability and would carry out a review into the response to the pandemic. Such a review was demanded by member states in a resolution this week that was passed by consensus, although the United States expressed reservations about some elements of it.
"I said it time and time again that WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it's done it has to be a comprehensive one," Tedros said of the review, while declining to say when it would start.
Ryan said such assessments are normally conducted after an emergency is over.
Tedros said he had long been looking for other sources of funding for the WHO, saying its $2.3 billion budget was "very, very small" for a global agency, around that of a medium sized hospital in the developed world.
In comments that could further annoy Trump, Ryan, said people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infection, except as part of a clinical trial to study it.
Trump has said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.
Amid the global health crisis, Latin America overtook the United States and Europe in the past week to report the largest portion of new daily cases globally.
It represents a new phase in the virus' spread, which initially peaked in China in February, before large-scale outbreaks followed in Europe and the US.
Latin America accounted for around a third of the 91,000 cases reported earlier this week. Europe and the US each accounted for just over 20%.
A large number of those new cases came from Brazil, which recently surpassed Germany, France and the United Kingdom to become the third-largest outbreak in the world, behind the US and Russia.
Cases in Brazil are now rising at a daily pace second only to the US.
The first 41 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Wuhan, China, on January 10 and it took the world until April 1 to reach its first million cases. Since then, about 1 million new cases are reported every two weeks, according to a Reuters tally.
The virus has infected more people in under six months than the annual total of severe flu cases, which the WHO estimates is around 3 million to 5 million globally.
The pandemic has claimed over 328,000 lives, though the true number is thought to be higher as testing is still limited and many countries do not include fatalities outside of hospitals. Over half of the total fatalities have been recorded in Europe.
Despite the continued increase in cases, many countries are opening schools and workplaces following weeks of lockdown that have stemmed the spread.
Financial markets have also been boosted slightly by promising early results from the first US vaccine trial in humans.