WHO warns coronavirus ‘accelerating’ as Italy’s death toll rises by 602 in a day

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 23, 2020, warned the coronavirus pandemic was accelerating.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 23, 2020, warned the coronavirus pandemic was accelerating. © AFP PHOTO / AFP

The pandemic of disease caused by the coronavirus is accelerating, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, with more than 300,000 cases now recorded and infections reported from nearly every country worldwide. The warning came as Italy on Monday recorded its smallest daily rise of coronavirus deaths in recent days. 


While it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases of COVID-19, it took only 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

"But we are not prisoners to statistics. We're not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic," Tedros told an online briefing for more than 300 journalists.

He called for global political commitment to change the trajectory of the pandemic, urging countries to take both defensive and attacking measures.

"Asking people to stay at home and other social distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time, but they are defensive measures," he said.

"To win we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics - testing every suspect case, isolating and caring for every confirmed cases and tracing and quarantining every close contact."

Italian daily death toll mounts by 602

The WHO warning came as the death toll from the outbreak in Italy grew by 602 to 6,077, the head of the Civil Protection Agency said on Monday, an 11 percent increase but the smallest rise in numerical terms since Thursday, suggesting a clear downward trend.

On Sunday, 651 people died. That followed 793 on Saturday and 627 on Friday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy rose to 63,927 on Monday from a previous 59,138, an increase of 8 percent, the Civil Protection Agency said -- the lowest rise in percentage terms since the contagion came to light on February 21.

Of those originally infected nationwide, 7,432 had fully recovered on Monday compared to 7,024 the day before. There were 3,204 people in intensive care against a previous 3,009.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remained in a critical situation, with a total of 3,776 deaths and 28,761 cases. That compared with 3,456 deaths and 27,206 cases reported up to Sunday.



Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app