The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over in the midst of the largest daily increase in global cases.
WHO said 106,000 new cases have been reported to them in the past 24 hours.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed particular concern over the increase in infections in low- and middle-income countries.
The warning comes as the total number of cases approaches five million.
The dark milestone is expected to be reached less than two weeks after the world reaches the four million mark.
Experts warn that the actual number of infections is likely to be much higher, with low test rates in many countries that distort the data.
According to Johns Hopkins University monitoring, more than 326,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide.
The United States remains the most affected country, with more than 1.5 million cases and 92,000 deaths to date.
What did WHO say?
“In the past 24 hours, 106,000 cases have been reported to WHO – the most in a single day since the start of the epidemic,” said Dr. Tedros at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Almost two-thirds of these cases have been reported in only four countries,” he added.
Dr. Tedros later warned that the world still “has a long way to go in this pandemic.”
His warning came as a number of countries, including the United States, began to relax lock restrictions.
Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO director of emergency, also spoke at the last briefing against the use of the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in connection with Covid-19.
It came after US President Donald Trump said he took the drug to ward off the virus, despite warnings from his own public health officials about its use.
- Hydroxychloroquine: What do we know?
“At this stage, (neither) hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine has yet been shown to be effective in the treatment of Covid-19 or in prophylaxis against the disease,” said Dr. Ryan.
“In fact, it is the opposite, as many authorities have issued warnings about the potential side effects of the drug. “
Despite these concerns, the Brazilian Ministry of Health on Wednesday released new guidelines approving wider use of the two drugs in cases of mild coronavirus.
Brazil has been in its third health minister for weeks after the last two clashed with President Jair Bolsonaro over his management of the virus epidemic.
The nation now has more than 270,000 infections confirmed by Covid-19, the third highest in the world, with nearly 20,000 added to their tally on Wednesday alone.
With experts warning that the country is still a few weeks away from its peak, the rapid spread of the virus in poor areas and indigenous communities is of particular concern.
In other developments:
- Bolivian Minister of Health arrested on suspicion of corruption after buying overpriced ventilators for coronavirus patients
A super cyclone made a severe landfall in eastern India and Bangladesh, but coronavirus restrictions make evacuation and rescue difficult
- Sweden announced national review of nursing homes fearing that some may not provide enough oxygen for patients
Greek officials say they hope to start tourist season next month despite global pandemic
- A change of rule in Spain means that it will be mandatory to wear a mask where social distancing is not possible from Thursday