WHO: Europe Has Become ‘Epicenter’ of Coronavirus Pandemic

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a combined news conference following a two-day international conference on COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine research and a meeting to decide whether Ebola in DR Congo still constitutes health emergency of international concern on January 12, 2020 in Geneva. - The UN health …
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that Europe has become the “epicenter” of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, “with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.”

“More cases are now being reported [in Europe] every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the U.N. global public health agency, said Friday at a press conference at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.

“China has certainly peaked and there is certainly a decline, but there’s always a chance” that could rise again, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the agency’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, according to CNBC.

As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 137,445 cases of the virus confirmed worldwide, with 4,728 deaths due to the infection it causes.

In China, 64,184 people have recovered from the infection, about 77 percent of the total confirmed cases.

Italy currently has 15,113 confirmed cases; Spain 4,334; Germany 3,156; and France 2,882.

Iran has 11,364 confirmed cases of the virus; South Korea has 7,979 cases.

According to the latest Johns Hopkins update, the United States currently has 1,268 confirmed cases, and Switzerland has 1,125.

Tedros urged nations to take a comprehensive approach to fight the virus.

“Not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not quarantine alone, not social distancing alone, do it all,” he said. “Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks that won’t happen to us is making a deadly mistake; it can happen to any country.”

Social distancing only slightly “slows down the virus so your health system can cope,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, reported CNBC.

“The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly,” Ryan said, adding what health officials had learned from the Ebola outbreak.

WHO declared Wednesday the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic.

In declaring the COVID-19 infection a pandemic, Tedros said WHO is “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity” of the outbreak and expressed concern about “the alarming levels of inaction.”

“We have, therefore, made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” he said.

“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” Tedros added, “if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response.”

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