WebMD News Brief

WHO: Global COVID-19 Cases Hit Single-Day Record

coronavirus cells illustration

May 22, 2020 -- More than 106,000 new coronavirus cases were reported worldwide on Tuesday, which is the highest number of global cases to be reported in one day, the World Health Organization announced. About two-thirds of the cases were reported in four countries: the U.S., Russia, Brazil and the UK.

On Thursday morning, the worldwide count surpassed 5 million cases and 328,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing on Wednesday. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries.”

This week, the WHO held its annual World Health Assembly virtually. During the press briefing, Tedros applauded the “unprecedented solidarity” among world leaders in discussing the challenges and next steps in the pandemic. He also discussed a “historic consensus resolution” on COVID-19 that more than a dozen leaders signed.

“The resolution sets out a clear roadmap of the critical activities and actions that must be taken to sustain and accelerate the response at the national and international levels,” he said.

The “whole-of-society approach” would create a coordinated response to the pandemic, he added, which would include universal access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. Global clinical trials now include 3,000 patients in 320 hospitals in 17 countries, he said.

“The pandemic has taught and informed many lessons. Health is not a cost. It’s an investment,” Tedros said. “To live in a secure world, guaranteeing quality health for all is not just the right choice, it’s the smart choice.”

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump wrote a letter to WHO and threatened to pull funding and consider withdrawing from the organization if it doesn’t conduct an assessment of its COVID-19 response in 30 days, according to NPR. Trump said the organization mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tedros told reporters he received the letter and is “looking into it” but didn’t give additional details during the briefing. He added that the WHO has pledged to review its response to the pandemic, though he didn’t say when that would happen.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone,” he said. “It has to be done, and when it’s done, it has to be a comprehensive one.”

Mike Ryan, MD, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said he would prefer to wait until the pandemic subsided to reflect on what occurred.

“I, for one, would prefer right now to get on with doing the job of an emergency response,” he said. “Of epidemic control, of developing and distributing vaccines, of improving our surveillance, of saving lives and distributing essential PPE to workers and finding medical oxygen for people in fragile settings, reducing the impact of this disease on refugees and migrants.”

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 22, 2020

Sources

WHO, “Who Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 on May 20, 2020.”

Johns Hopkins University, “COVID-19 Dashboard.”

NPR, “Fact-checking and assessing Trump’s letter of rebuke to WHO.”

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