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WHO warns of 'new and dangerous phase' as global pandemic accelerates

Jun 20. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Miriam Berger · WORLD, HEALTH

Countries may be at differing phases in the pandemic, but the global spread of the novel coronavirus is accelerating overall, the World Health Organization said Friday.

"The world is in a new and dangerous phase," Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual news briefing from Geneva, where the WHO is headquartered. "The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible."

The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. The Middle East and South Asia are also reporting rises, Tedros said.

The head of the U.N. health agency cautioned that people must maintain "extreme vigilance" while continuing to maintain social distancing. The WHO has also advised mask-wearing and frequent hand-washing to prevent the spread of the respiratory disease.

More than three months after the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic, the virus continues its march around the world. After first surging in Asia and then Europe, cases are rising in many countries that initially shut down in March and April to prevent the virus's spread. Amid pressure for economies to reopen, the WHO has warned that governments need to be prepared for sudden new outbreaks.

"We should not be surprised if there are large resurgences," WHO expert Maria Van Kerkhove said Friday.

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