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10% of World's Population May Have Been Infected with Coronavirus, WHO Says

By VOA News October 05, 2020

The World Health Organization says roughly one in 10 people around the world may have been infected with the coronavirus.

The head of the health emergencies program at the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, said Monday that the agency's "best estimates" indicate 10 percent of the world's population could have contracted the virus.

That estimate, which would amount to more than 760 million people, is more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases in the world and would still leave more than 90 percent of the population susceptible to the virus.

Speaking to a special session of the WHO's 34-member executive board in Geneva, Ryan said the figures vary between countries but the estimate means "the vast majority of the world remains at risk," adding that "we are now heading into a difficult period."

The number of confirmed worldwide cases tallied by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center surpassed 35 million Monday, a week after surpassing 1 million coronavirus deaths.

Several European nations hit their own pandemic milestones with Germany reporting Monday its total confirmed cases exceed 300,000, Britain recording 500,000 cases, and Spain becoming the first European country to surpass 800,000 total coronavirus cases.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought on Monday to play down a failure in his country's testing data system that did not initially show 16,000 coronavirus test results.

"To be frank, I think that the slightly lower numbers that we'd seen didn't really reflect where we thought that the disease was likely to go," Johnson said.

Also Monday, Britain's Cineworld, the second-largest movie theater chain in the world, announced it would temporarily close its British and U.S. theaters. Coronavirus lockdown orders and restrictions on group gatherings have badly hurt the movie industry. Cineworld said the move would affect 45,000 jobs.

To address broader job losses in the country's economy, the British government on Monday launched a new $300 million program aimed at helping people get back to work.

In the United States, about two-thirds of U.S. states reported an increase in new coronavirus cases in the past week, mostly in the West and Midwest, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. The United States has recorded more than 7.4 million cases of coronavirus and nearly 210,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday left the military hospital where he had been receiving treatment for COVID-19 to return to the White House.

The top U.S. health agency acknowledged Monday that people can sometimes become infected with coronavirus through airborne transmission because of aerosolized particles. However, in updated guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintained that such spread is uncommon.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered schools in several coronavirus "hot spots" around the state to close beginning on Tuesday, including parts of the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

India said Monday that it had registered more than 74,000 confirmed coronaviruses cases in the past 24 hours, after crossing 100,000 fatalities on Saturday. India has over 6.6 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that restrictions in the city of Auckland would be lifted Wednesday.

The measures were put in place to stamp out an outbreak in the country's largest city in August, which threatened to reverse New Zealand's progress toward eliminating the coronavirus.

In France, starting Tuesday, Paris bars will close for two weeks and restaurants will begin using new sanitary protocols, according to the prime minister's office.

France on Sunday reported 12,565 new cases of coronavirus, while 893 COVID-19 patients had been admitted into intensive care over the past week.

Iceland's government announced new coronavirus restrictions Monday following a spike in cases. The government ordered bars, gyms and entertainment venues to close and sharply reduced the number of people allowed to gather in public.

In Russia, Moscow's Ministry of Education announced that city schools would switch to a distance learning format as cases have climbed to more than 10,000 per day in Russia.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Monday she is self-isolating after attending a meeting last week with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Von der Leyen said she tested negative on Thursday and would be tested again Monday.

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