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WHO chief Tedros says countries that let Covid run unchecked ‘are playing with fire’


Surging coronavirus outbreaks in counties across Europe and the Americas are “extremely” worrying and are beginning to stress health-care systems “to the breaking point,” the World Health Organization’s top official said Monday.

“This is a dangerous virus which can attack every system in the body. Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

The coronavirus has infected more than 54 million people around the world and killed at least 1.3 million people so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. According to WHO’s latest situation report, the Americas have accounted for 43% of the globe’s total Covid-19 cases while Europe has reported just over a quarter.

Many countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have taken strict actions to curb the virus’ spread, shuttering nonessential businesses and advising residents to stay home as much as possible.

The U.S. is reporting a record-high weekly average of 148,725 new cases a day on Sunday, a more than 30% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Hopkins. Some states are beginning to impose more stringent actions, though so far the measures have varied in severity.

Meanwhile, more people are becoming hospitalized with the virus than at any point during the pandemic so far. More than 69,900 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the U.S., the highest number of patients since the virus was discovered in China 11 months ago, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic.

“We need to do everything we can to support health workers, keeps schools open, protect the vulnerable and safeguarding the economy,” Tedros said. “There is no excuse for inaction.”

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.



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