Warning issued as Europe becomes epicentre of global coronavirus pandemic mapped

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged people to act rather than "let this fire burn" as it announced Europe has become the epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic.

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued the stark warning days after the organisation officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Dr Tedros says Europe now has more reported cases of the virus and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.

He added that more cases of Covid-19 were now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic, and urged countries to be "comprehensive" in their measures.

"Our message to countries continues to be, you must take a comprehensive approach. Not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not quarantine alone, not social distancing alone – do it all," he said.

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"Any countries 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 any country."

Dr Tedros reiterated that countries should "prepare and be ready", and urged people to act rather than "let this fire burn".

"Every person must know the signs and symptoms and how to protect themselves and others," he said.

"Reduce transmission, do not just let this fire burn. Isolate the sick and quarantine their contact. In addition that increase in social distancing such as cancelling sporting events may help to reduce transmission."

It comes as Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething said on Friday that up to 20,000 people in the country could die following the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Gething said: "In an average flu season across the UK, there are 8-10,000 deaths. In the worst-case scenario, as you know in Wales, for coronavirus could be over 20,000 deaths.

"That's the choice we are making in how to use our resources."

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On Friday the Premier League announced that all professional football matches would be suspended until April due to coronavirus concerns.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China has increased 13-fold in the past two weeks, and the number of affected countries has tripled.

He said there had been "alarming levels of inaction" in some parts of the world.

But Dr Tedros advised that despite the change in the language, WHO is still advising countries to remain in the containment phase.

  • World Health Organisation
  • Coronavirus

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