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Coronavirus: the pandemic is 'accelerating', warns WHO

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Coronavirus: the pandemic is 'accelerating', warns WHO

With 26,096 new cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in a single day, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, said on Monday, 23, that the pandemic is “ accelerating ”its spread.

Adhanom called for the commitment of world politicians and officials to fight the epidemic and said he would address G20 leaders this week to ask them to work together to increase the production of protective equipment for health professionals. The G20, a group of the seven most industrialized economies in the world, will meet by videoconference.

The pandemic has already spread to almost every country in the world. There are 353,692 cases and 15,430 deaths, according to a real-time survey by Johns Hopkins University. In countries where the situation is worse, such as in Italy and Spain, in addition to the lack of beds and equipment, health professionals are also beginning to be affected by the disease.

If the health system collapses in developed countries, in regions with little or no health infrastructure, the situation will be even more dramatic. WHO had already warned the African continent to prepare for the worst. The attention of the Organization is also focused on Syria, a country still conflicted by civil war where the first case of Covid-19 was diagnosed on Sunday 22.

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Affected by a war that has lasted since 2011, Syria will begin receiving 300 WHO diagnostic kits by Thursday, 26, according to the director-general. Adhanom said he feared a new humanitarian crisis in the country.

Without delay, WHO plans to deliver an additional 2,000 extra exam kits and a supply of 10,000 surgical masks and 500 respirators. About 1,000 health professionals were mobilized. The funds will be allocated to three hospitals in the country, in which ICU beds are already available, said Organization spokesman Hedinn Halldorsson.

"WHO is extremely concerned about the impact that Covid-19 could have in northwest Syria," said the spokesman. The Idlib region is the last stronghold of the rebel army and, despite the current calm due to a ceasefire between Turkey and Russia (which support different sides of the war), the province has undergone three months of uninterrupted fighting, which has resulted in thousands deaths and the displacement of about a million people from their homes. Most displaced people live in very precarious conditions and often lack food and clean water, which facilitates the spread of disease.

The new coronavirus pandemic has already hit 160 countries, infecting 350,536 people and killing 15,328, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the Middle East, Iran is the country with the highest number of cases and deaths – 23,049 and 1,812 deaths, respectively. In Brazil, 1,620 infections and 25 deaths were recorded – 22 of them in the state of São Paulo.

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(With Reuters and AFP)

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