COVID-19 continues to spread and the world will reach 1 million plus cases in the coming days, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.
"Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed a near exponential growth in the number of new COVID19 cases, reaching almost every country, territory and area. The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week. In the coming days we will reach 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 50,000 deaths," the official said in a briefing Wednesday.
"I am deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection," Tedros noted, saying that the WHO realizes "that COVID-19 could have serious social, economic and political consequences" for regions including Africa, Central and South America.
"Many countries are asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement, which can help to limit transmission of the virus, but can have unintended consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people," he explained. He added that governments must put social welfare measures in place "to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials during this crisis."
Tedros praised India's efforts, including a $24 billion package of free food rations for 800 million people, cash transfers to 204 million poor women, and free cooking gas for 80 million households over the next three months.
Tedros also urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to provide debt relief to developing countries to prevent economic collapse and enable authorities to provide basic care for their citizens.
According to the WHO chief, his organization remains committed to providing the latest health guidelines on COVID-19, with updates made regularly as more information is made available. This included guidelines on the use of medical masks, which he said was a WHO recommendation "for people who are sick and those caring for them," but only "when combined with other protective measures."
Biggest Global Test Since World War II
Emerging in Wuhan, China in late 2019, the COVID-19 outbreak has gone on to effect every region and virtually every country in the world, posing a threat not only to public health, but to economic and social stability as well.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the new coronavirus pandemic as the worst danger to global peace since the Second World War, saying that the economic fallout from the virus "will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past." This, he warned, would increase the danger of "enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict" worldwide.