Acceleration of the pandemic, world peak to come: the head of the WHO

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TORONTO – After a record number of new cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide over the weekend, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the pandemic is worsening despite certain regions that appear to have slowed its spread. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that the world “has clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic” and that “the epidemic is accelerating.”

Ghebreyesus acknowledged that while the number of infections appears to have stabilized globally, some countries like the United States and Brazil continue to see an increase in cases.

“In reality, some countries have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths, while in other countries theirs are still increasing,” Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.

The comments come after WHO said its member countries reported more than 212,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest total on a day and increasing since the start of the pandemic. The figures were released during the July 4 celebrations, which US health officials say may increase the number of cases in the coming weeks.

Ghebreyesus congratulated countries that have made progress in reducing their number of cases and deaths for implementing “targeted actions towards the most vulnerable groups”, including those living in health care facilities long duration.

He added that WHO is sending a team of experts to China this weekend to better understand the origins of COVID-19.

“The objective of the mission is to advance the understanding of animal hosts for COVID-19 and to determine how the disease jumped between animals and humans,” said Ghebreyesus.

Scientists who have studied the virus indicate that bats are the most likely source of transmission to humans. The first reported cases of COVID-19 were linked to a live animal market in Wuhan that sold exotic species.

There are now more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, as well as more than 539,000 deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. However, due to the shortage of analytical equipment worldwide, the WHO says that the exact number of COVID-19 cases is not known.

As of 2:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, there had been more than 106,000 cases and nearly 8,700 related deaths reported in Canada.

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