GENEVA (AP) – A record number of new daily COVID-19 cases worldwide could indicate that the pandemic is peaking in some major countries, even though coronavirus has become ‘well-established’ in some regions, said the World Health Organization emergency chief Monday.
At a news conference on Monday, Dr. Michael Ryan “the number is increasing rapidly because the epidemic is developing in a number of densely populated countries at the same time,” even though it seems to be stabilizing and even declining in parts of Western Europe.
In its latest Situation Report on COVID-19 late Sunday, WHO reported the largest increase in coronavirus cases per day by the number – more than 183,000 new cases in a 24-hour period. That was supported by more than 54,700 new cases in Brazil and more than 36,600 in the United States.
Some countries have attributed their increased caseload to more testing, including India – which had more than 15,000 new cases within the 24-hour period – and the United States, but Ryan rejected that explanation.
“We don’t believe this is a test phenomenon,” he said, noting that many countries have also noticed notable increases in hospitalizations and deaths, neither of which can be explained by more testing.
“There is definitely a shift in the fact that the virus is now very well established,” said Ryan. “The epidemic is now peaking or peaking in some major countries.” The situation is “certainly accelerating” in a number of countries, including South Asia and America, he said.
He expressed new concerns about rising business numbers in America and recorded a record jump of more than 54,000 new daily business in Brazil. There, nearly one in three people tested has shown positive, indicating that the number of cases has gone unnoticed.
Still, the overall pattern in Brazil in June was “relatively stable,” he said, adding that the 54,000 new cases over a 24-hour period “need to be carefully investigated” to determine the reason for the spike.
Brazil still has “relatively low” tests per population, Ryan said, and the rate of positive cases was 31% – much higher than the 5% rate commonly found in countries that “detect all of their cases.”
“Nearly a third of all tests are positive, indicating that there is generally under-detection or under-reporting of cases,” he explained.
As for Africa, Ryan cited a “mixed” situation, but those numbers are “generally on the rise”, pointing to more cases in South Africa, Benin, Burundi, Eritrea and Ethiopia – the Director-General’s home country WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Ryan said major cities seemed to be more affected.
“Africa currently still avoids the bulk of the deaths associated with this disease in other continents,” he said, noting that “caveats” such as testing in Africa are not as common as elsewhere.
African hospitals “don’t seem overwhelmed in most countries,” he said, noting exceptions in places like densely populated Lagos, Nigeria.
“There is no reason for complacency on the African continent,” said Ryan. “Will Africa be the next epicenter of this pandemic? I certainly hope not, because health systems in Africa are generally weaker than in other parts of the world. ‘
AP medical writer Maria Cheng reported from London.
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