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Covid 19 coronavirus: WHO warns pandemic is ‘accelerating

The coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and has reached “a new and dangerous phase”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

More than 150,000 new cases of the virus were reported to the global health agency on Thursday – the most in a single day so far – WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva on Friday.

“Almost half of those cases were reported from the Americas, with large numbers also being reported from South Asia and the Middle East,” he said.

Tedros said the world had now entered “a new and dangerous phase” where most people were fed up with being at home.

“Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies. But the virus is still spreading fast, it’s still deadly and most people are still susceptible,” he said.

Beijing virus likely ‘imported’, WHO expert says

The coronavirus currently circulating in Beijing was likely “imported at some point”, Dr Michael Ryan, from the WHO, says.

Genome data published by China on Friday showed the virus shared some similarities with European strains.

But Ryan said that didn’t necessarily mean it originated from Europe.

“When we talk about Europe strains, we need to be careful,” he said.

“There are different strains circulating, but to be frank, strains and viruses have moved around the world. For example if you go to New York, many of the viruses that circulated in New York were of European origin. Even places like Japan has reimported cases from Europe.

“It’s not indicated that Europe is the origin of the disease. What it’s saying most likely is that the disease was probably imported from outside Beijing at some point.

“Establishing when that happened and how long the chain of transmission is important.”

The virus was initially detected at a sprawling food market on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon.

Ryan added that the outbreak in Beijing demonstrated “just how dangerous a cluster can be in a closed environment”.

Similar outbreaks had been seen in meat processing plants and religious settings around the world, so it was up to experts to work out why these “amplification events” were happening, he said.

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