GENEVA - The World Health Organization reported late Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic was continuing to move swiftly around the world, with the number of cases exceeding 267,000, including more than 11,000 deaths.
Health officials said infections were accelerating at a faster pace than ever. They noted it took three months for the world to reach the first 100,000 cases of the deadly disease, but only 12 days to reach the next 100,000.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lamented this latest tragic milestone in a pandemic that has a long way to run before it is stopped.
At the same time, he noted that Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of the disease, reported no new cases Thursday for the first time since the outbreak started. He said this provided hope that even the most severe situation could be turned around.
“Of course, we must exercise caution," he said. " The situation can reverse. But the experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this virus give hope and courage to the rest of the world. Every day, we are learning more about this virus and the disease it causes."
Youths not immune
One thing he has learned, he said, is that young people are not immune from the disease. While older people are hardest hit by coronavirus, he said, data from many countries show people under age 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization.
“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible," Tedros said. "This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you. Even if you do not get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”
Tedros said solidarity was the key to defeating COVID-19. He said solidarity between young and old as well as between countries is what eventually can break the chains of transmission and suppress the virus.
But he noted that this would take an enormous effort, coordination, commitment and unflinching political will.