GENEVA — World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday he expects the number of novel coronavirus cases around the world, now at about 9.3 million, to reach 10 million next week.
During a news briefing, Tedros said he backed Saudi Arabia’s decision to ban pilgrims from abroad from attending the annual Haj pilgrimage to help limit the spread of the virus.
Tedros said WHO was now supporting many countries in dealing with difficulties obtaining oxygen concentrators, devices that boost the flow of oxygen to support the breathing of COVID-19 sufferers.
“Demand is outstripping supply,” Tedros said.
Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO emergencies program, said the pandemic for many countries in the Americas had not yet peaked, and that it was “still intense,” especially in Central and South America.
“I would characterize the situation as still evolving, not having reached its peak yet, and likely to result in sustained numbers of cases and deaths in the coming weeks,” Ryan said.
Several countries in the region have experienced 25-50% increases in cases in the last week, he said.
On the other hand, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have asked people travelling from states where Covid-19 cases are rising to go into self-isolation for 14 days.
New Jersey’s Phil Murphy said people in the three states had been “through hell and back” and did not want “another round” of virus infections.
Some southern and western states have been reporting record numbers of cases.
The University of Washington predicts 180,000 US deaths by October – or 146,000 if 95% of Americans wear masks.
So far, the US has recorded more than 2.3 million cases of the virus and more than 121,000 deaths.
Health officials say the coming weeks will be crucial to stem the outbreaks.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday reported 778 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the nationwide total to 33,069.
Of the number, 415 are considered fresh cases, while 363 are late cases.
The DOH also reported 8 new fatalities from the contagious disease, bringing the death toll to 1,212.
The number of people who recovered from coronavirus infection rose by 255 to 8,910, the DOH said./Stacy Ang, Reuters and BBC.com