A World Health Organization (WHO) official says the United States has the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus crisis as a large acceleration of infections is occurring in the nation.
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So, it does have that potential,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters Tuesday when asked whether the U.S. could become the new epicenter, according to Reuters.
Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were from Europe and the U.S., Harris said. Of those, 40 percent were in the U.S.
The United States has more than more than 46,500 confirmed cases with nearly 600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. New York State Monday saw an increase of more than 4,000 confirmed cases since Sunday, as the total number of cases is approaching 21,000, according to The New York Times.
Only China and Italy have recorded more cases than the U.S. China has tallied more than 81,000 cases with more than 3,200 deaths, while Italy has more than 63,900 confirmed cases with more than 6,000 deaths.
Worldwide, more than 395,000 cases have been confirmed with more than 17,000 deaths.
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As cases passed more than 300,000 this week, WHO officials warned during a news conference Monday that the pandemic is accelerating.
“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third 100,000,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.
Tedros said asking people to stay home and other physical distancing measures are an important way to slow down the spread of the virus, but said they are only defensive measures.
The WHO official said the trajectory of the pandemic can still change. He said every suspected COVID-19 case needs to be tested, every confirmed case needs to be isolated and cared for and every close contact needs to be traced and quarantined.
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