Global Covid-19 cases to reach one million ‘in next few days’

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the globe will exceed one million in the coming days, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The global health body said it was concerned by the “near exponential” growth in the number of confirmed cases around the world.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday, director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of deaths had doubled in the last week alone.

“As we enter the fourth month since the start of the pandemic, I am deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection,” he said.

“Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed a near exponential growth in the number of new Covid-19 cases, reaching almost every country, territory and area.

“The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week. In the next few days we will reach one million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 50,000 deaths.”

Dr Ghebreyesus said 74 countries had joined or were in the process of joining the WHO’s Solidarity Trial, “which is comparing four drugs and drug combinations” against Covid-19, with more than 200 patients randomly assigned to undergo the trial.

Dr Ghebreyesus said WHO’s priority was for frontline health workers to be able to access personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical masks and respirators.

“That’s why we are continuing to work with governments and manufacturers to step-up the production and distribution of personal protective equipment, including masks,” he added.

Dr Ghebreyesus said there was an ongoing debate about the use of masks at a community level and recommended they be used by people who were sick or those who were looking after them.

There were many developing countries that could not support their society, especially those with people who “work for the daily bread”, he said.

The director general called on the international community to have debt relief to support these countries “to enable them to take care of their people and avoid economic collapse”.

He stressed that the first ever pandemic caused by a coronavirus was a new virus and that there were many unknowns.

“Let’s accept things with an open mind and trust what is coming,” he said.