NEW DELHI: Europe has now, apart from China, become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
“More cases in Europe are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.
As of 13 March 2020, every country in Europe except Montenegro has reported at least one case of COVID-19, and 18 countries have reported at least one death. Italy alone has reported 17,660 cases with 1,266 deaths followed by Spain with 4,335 cases and 122 deaths and Germany with 3,675 cases and 8 deaths.
Looking at the overall situation, according to the latest situation report of the WHO, five new countries/territories areas (Jersey, Réunion, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba and Guyana) have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
The global deaths toll due to coronavirus reached 5,416 on Saturday with 145,360 people confirmed affected by the virus in 138 countries, according to the latest data available on Johns Hopkins University.
“More than 132,000 cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, from 123 countries and territories. 5,000 people have lost their lives, a tragic milestone," said
Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO's emerging diseases unit, said it was not possible to predict how the pandemic will develop. Europe and other regions of the world have implemented drastic measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including closing schools and tightening borders. India has also taken such measures with strict visa restrictions and temporary closure of schools, colleges and cinema halls.
Public health experts have said that what makes pandemics particularly dangerous is that the population generally does not have immunity to the disease.
Together with the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, WHO on Friday also launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to enable individuals and organizations to contribute.
“Until now, we have been relying mainly on governments to support the response. Funds raised will be used to coordinate the response, to buy masks, gloves, gowns and goggles for health workers, to buy diagnostic tests, to improve surveillance, and to invest in research and development," said Tedros.