View of the Intensive Care Unit treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients in the Gilberto Novaes Hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20, 2020. Brazil has seen a record number of coronavirus deaths as the pandemic that has swept across the world begins to hit Latin America with its full force.
AFP/Michael Dantas
WHO records highest daily number of COVID-19 cases
Robin Millard (Agence France-Presse) - May 21, 2020 - 7:21am

GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization said Wednesday it had registered a new daily record number of COVID-19 cases as it quickly neared the "tragic milestone" of five million total infections.

The UN agency's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that on Tuesday, there were "106,000 cases reported to WHO — the most in a single day since the outbreak began" in December.

The WHO was also getting to grips with US President Donald Trump's reform ultimatum, giving the organisation 30 days to overhaul its operations otherwise its biggest contributor would freeze its funding and consider pulling out altogether.

The Geneva-based WHO's coronavirus disease dashboard said that on Tuesday, 106,662 confirmed cases had been reported to the agency from around the world.

The new figures come after states around the world have been dramatically ramping up their testing programmes.

And the pandemic is still unfolding.

"We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," Tedros told a virtual press conference as his agency warned of rising infection figures in poorer countries.

More than 4.9 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered in total since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said the five million cases mark would be a "tragic milestone".

Tedros added: "We're very concerned about the rising numbers of cases in low- and middle-income countries."

More than 325,000 people have lost their lives, according to the AFP tally.

WHO studying Trump letter

The WHO's annual gathering of member states agreed Tuesday to an independent probe into the UN agency's coronavirus response amid mounting US criticism over its handling of the pandemic.

Trump made public later Tuesday a letter he sent to Tedros, saying that if the WHO did not commit to "major substantive improvements" within 30 days, he would permanently freeze funding to the organisation and reconsider US membership.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the WHO's budget and has already suspended funding, accusing the organisation of severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus.

Pressed on the ultimatum, Tedros said only: "We have received the letter and we are looking into it."

The WHO agreed that an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of "the actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic" should be conducted at the "earliest possible moment".

Asked Wednesday when that might be, Tedros said: "When all the conditions we need are actually met".

Hydroxychloroquine advice

Trump on Monday made the surprise announcement that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that his own government experts say is not suitable for fighting the novel coronavirus.

And Brazil's health ministry recommended Wednesday using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat even mild cases of COVID-19 — treatments President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed for despite the lack of conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.

The WHO's Ryan stressed: "Hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine have been, as yet, found to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 — or in the prophylaxis against coming down with the disease."

The two drugs are among a handful involved in WHO-coordinated clinical trials to find effective treatments for the disease. Some 3,000 patients are taking part in the trials in 320 hospitals across 17 countries.

"As WHO, we would advise that for COVID-19, that these drugs be reserved for use within such trials," said Ryan.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 5, 2020 - 4:56pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

June 5, 2020 - 4:56pm

The Department of Health reports that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the Philippines climbed to 20,626 as of Friday, June 5, 2020.

There are 244 additional cases, 82 recoveries and three new deaths.

June 5, 2020 - 9:16am

Brazil's death toll from the novel coronavirus has surged to become the third-highest in the world, surpassing Italy's, according to official figures released Thursday.

The South American country of 210 million people reported a new record of 1,473 deaths in 24 hours, bringing its overall toll to 34,021, from 614,941 infections, the health ministry said.

Italy has confirmed 33,689 deaths from 234,013 infections. — AFP 

June 5, 2020 - 7:26am

 The novel coronavirus has killed at least 387,280 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 6,563,710 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,838,800 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

June 4, 2020 - 6:44pm

Britain's Prince Charles spoke of his experience of coronavirus, saying he was fortunate to have only mild symptoms and that he hopes the pandemic will refocus efforts on the environment. 

"I was lucky in my case and got away with it quite lightly," the 71-year-old heir to the throne told Sky News television in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

"I can so understand what other people have gone through. I feel particularly for those who've lost their loved ones but were unable to be with them at the time.

"That's to me the most ghastly thing," he said. — AFP

June 4, 2020 - 5:05pm

The Department of Health reports 634 additional cases of the coronavirus disease, which brings the national tally to 20,382.

The agency says there are 95 recoveries and 10 deaths. 

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