WHO warns of 'accelerating' pandemic, expects Olympics decision soon

By Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) - The pandemic of disease caused by the coronavirus is accelerating, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, with more than 300,000 cases now recorded and infections reported from nearly every country worldwide. While it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases of COVID-19, it took only 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said. 'But we are not prisoners to statistics.

Reuters March 24, 2020 00:10:34 IST
WHO warns of 'accelerating' pandemic, expects Olympics decision soon

WHO warns of accelerating pandemic expects Olympics decision soon

By Stephanie Nebehay and Kate Kelland

GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) - The pandemic of disease caused by the coronavirus is accelerating, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, with more than 300,000 cases now recorded and infections reported from nearly every country worldwide.

While it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases of COVID-19 , it took only 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

"But we are not prisoners to statistics. We're not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic," Tedros told an online briefing for more than 300 journalists.

He called for global political commitment to change the trajectory of the pandemic, urging countries to take both defensive and attacking measures.

"Asking people to stay at home and other social distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time, but they are defensive measures," he said.

"To win we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics - testing every suspect case, isolating and caring for every confirmed cases and tracing and quarantining every close contact."

Asked about the 2020 Olympics due to be held in Tokyo, Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme, said the WHO was feeding into deliberations by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and the Tokyo 2020 Committee.

Australia and Canada have already said they are withdrawing from the 2020 Games and organisers are facing increasing pressure to postpone them first time in their 124-year modern history.

"I believe a decision will be made very soon," Ryan said.

He said any decision to postpone the Games would be made by Japan and the IOC, adding: "We have every confidence that the Japanese government and the IOC will not proceed with any Games should they be dangerous to athletes or spectators."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Gareth Jones and Angus MacSwan)

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