WHO holds press conference on the coronavirus outbreak


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World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Wednesday to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, WHO officials warned that the global outbreak is picking up pace, as global infection passed 350,000 and deaths topped 15,000. Since then, global infections have risen to over 441,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, and the death toll has passed 19,780.

“The pandemic is accelerating,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday at a press briefing from the organization’s Geneva headquarters. “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”

Last week, WHO officials said the outbreak shouldn’t be dismissed as a bad flu season, adding that the virus has overwhelmed hospital systems across the globe in just a few weeks. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said that 26 million health-care workers may end up treating COVID-19 patients, and there’s a shortage of protective equipment for them.

WHO is also working with scientists across the globe on at least 20 different coronavirus vaccines with some already in clinical trials in record time — just 60 days after sequencing the gene, officials said. However, the vaccines are still a long way away from being available for public use, WHO officials cautioned. Once a vaccine is discovered, there will be logistical, financial and ethical hurdles world leaders will face.

— CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.

Read CNBC’s live updates to see the latest news on the COVID-19 outbreak.


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