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Europe has become the epicenter of coronavirus: WHO
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 03 - 2020

Europe has now become the epicenter of the new coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China, the head of the World Health Organization said Friday.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in Geneva that more cases are now being reported every day than were reported at the height of its epidemic
"More than 132,000 cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, from 123 countries and territories. About 5,000 people have lost their lives, a tragic milestone."
"We're encouraged that many countries are now acting on the 8 pillars of WHO's COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Most countries now have a national plan; most are taking a multi-sectoral approach and most have laboratory testing capacity," the WHO chief said.
"We're continuing to support countries to prepare and respond, we have shipped supplies of personal protective equipment to 56 countries, we're shipping to a further 28, and we've sent almost 1.5 million diagnostic tests to 120 countries," Tedros added.
"Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks "that won't happen to us" is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to anyone," Tedros insisted.
"The experience of China and Japan and others clearly demonstrates that aggressive testing and contact tracing, combined with social distancing measures and community mobilization, can prevent COVID-19 infections and save lives," Tedros said.
Countries across the globe ramped up their precautionary efforts, sealing borders and canceling events in a renewed bid to slow the ballooning pandemic.
Spain, Italy and Iran all showed a dramatic rise in cases and fatalities in the past 24 hours, while infections were reported in Kenya and Ethiopia, the first in east Africa.
COVID-19, which first emerged in China in December, has spread relentlessly around the world even as cases in Asia have leveled out in recent days.
South Korea saw newly recovered patients exceed fresh infections for the first time and the lowest number of new cases for three weeks.
And China this week claimed "the peak" of the pandemic had passed its shores although it still has the biggest overall number of deaths and infections.
Governments across Europe have imposed a cascade of tough restrictions. Spain declared a state of alert after its infections raced past 3,000, Switzerland and Germany announced school closures, and Ukraine said it would seal its borders to foreigners as it confirmed its first death.
France has also ordered schools and universities closed until further notice and announced it was banning gatherings of more 100 people. —SG/Agencies


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