U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO

By Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has the potential to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic due to a 'very large acceleration' in infections there, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Reuters March 25, 2020 00:17:09 IST
U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO

US has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre says WHO

By Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has the potential to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic due to a "very large acceleration" in infections there, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The highly contagious respiratory virus has infected more than 42,000 people in the United States, prompting more governors to join states ordering Americans to stay at home.

Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases worldwide were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicentre, she said: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet but it does have that potential."

"...They (the United States) have a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity," Harris added.

However, she identified some positive signs such as more comprehensive testing, and further efforts to isolate the sick and trace their immediate contacts exposed to the virus.

She also referred to "extremely heartwarming" stories of how Americans were helping each other during the crisis.

Overall, the global outbreak was accelerating very rapidly and she expected large increases in case numbers and deaths from the 334,981 cases and 14,652 deaths currently reported to WHO.

WHO's dashboard on its website, which tends to lag countries' individual tallies, showed that Monday had by far the biggest daily rise in infections since the outbreak began in December, with more than 40,000 new cases.

Harris said that new records were to be expected each day until new confinement measures begin to take effect.

Up until now, Europe has been the centre of transmission with Italy the most badly-hit country with the world's highest number of deaths, although fatalities have begun slowing there.

Asked about a potential tipping point in Italy, she said: "There is a glimmer of hope there. We've seen in the last two days fewer new cases and deaths in Italy but its very, very early days yet."

Harris also voiced concern about growing case numbers in countries with weak health systems and high HIV prevalence.

South Africa's confirmed number of coronavirus cases rose to 554 on Tuesday ahead of a nationwide lockdown panned for 21 days from midnight on Thursday.

"South Africa is doing what needed, doing the testing and following the contacts," she said.​

(Reporting by Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Alison Williams and Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.