Number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally to exceed one million in coming days

1 April 2020, 21:02

Red Cross staff wearing a protective containment suit sanitizes an ambulance that transported a Covid 19 patient in Baronissi, Italy
Red Cross staff wearing a protective containment suit sanitizes an ambulance that transported a Covid 19 patient in Baronissi, Italy. Picture: PA

By Megan White

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.

He said: "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.”

"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.

He added that 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.

Meanwhile, in the UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma told a press briefing in Downing Street: “Specifically on the point of PPE… over the past two weeks we have delivered over 390 million PPE products.

“We have ensured that these are being delivered to every GP practice, to dentists… and there is also now a 24-hour NHS-run hotline where NHS and social care workers can call and request that PPE if it is needed.”

Mr Sharma added: “The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest threat our country has faced in decades.

“And we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.”