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WHO Confirms Surge of COVID Cases in Beijing

Medical workers in protective suits help people lining up inside a sports center for nucleic acid tests, following new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, June 15, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Beijing shows that even places that have successfully suppressed the virus must remain vigilant against a resurgence.

At his regular press briefing Monday, WHO Secretary-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Beijing had gone 50 days without reporting a new case of the new coronavirus, and yet, since last week, a cluster of 100 new cases has been confirmed.

Tedros said the origin and extent of the Beijing outbreak are being investigated, and he noted the virus is surging elsewhere as well. He said that worldwide “it took more than two months for the first 100,000 cases to be reported. For the past two weeks, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported almost every single day.”

He said 75% of recent cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. However, increasing numbers of cases are seen in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, even in countries that have demonstrated the ability to suppress transmission.

When asked about the safety of air travel as borders opened across Europe Monday, the WHO warned there is no “zero risk” environment for the virus.

WHO Health Emergencies Executive Director Michael Ryan told reporters, "What we need to do is identify the risks that may be involved or the increased risk that may be associated with travel.”