World, Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19 accelerating rapidly, Europe, US main drivers

WHO spokeswoman says 85% of new cases overnight come from Europe and US

Peter Kenny   | 24.03.2020
COVID-19 accelerating rapidly, Europe, US main drivers


COVID-19 is accelerating rapidly globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday, with Europe and the United States the main drivers of 85% of the cases in the past 24 hours.

“The outbreak is accelerating very rapidly, and the case number we have received overnight will put that up considerably,” WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said at a briefing held online by the UN in Geneva.

The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine put the number of cases worldwide at nearly 384,000, with around 17,000 confirmed deaths.

Harris said: “Sadly, the number of deaths will increase considerably.

“So, 85% of cases reported in the last 24 hours have come from the European region and the U.S. – 50% from the European region and 40% from the U.S.,” said Harris.

The WHO spokeswoman said that to put that into proportion, “It took two years in the word’s worst Ebola outbreak we ever had in West Africa to reach 11,000 deaths, so we really are seeing an enormous outbreak here.”

The WHO risk assessment for the whole world is “very high,” with three new countries/territories/areas from the African region added to the list along with countries from the Americas and the Eastern Mediterranean Region reporting cases.

Zimbabwe reported its first case overnight, and South Africa is believed to have more than 500 cases as the disease seeps into the continent.

The WHO said that World Water Day 2020, celebrated on March 22, highlighted the essential role of handwashing in hygiene to protect individuals and those around them.

UN-Water said, however, that 3 billion people lack handwashing facilities in their homes.

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