WHO says COVID-19 crisis is affecting pandemic against coronavirus

The World Health Organization said on Saturday the COVID-19 disease outbreak is affecting its response to tackling any major outbreak of the virus in the coming two years which could see an existing outbreak worsen further.

COVID-19 is likely to have a lasting impact on global public health in the coming two years the WHOs top emergencies expert Mike Ryan said during a virtual briefing from New York.

His comments came after researchers calculated on Friday that the global total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus which hospitals globally describe as a respiratory virus stood at about 168700 compared with 207000 for the United States which leads with over 1. 5 million cases.

It matched the number of deaths from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and significantly outstripped the number of deaths from E. coli a powerful bacteria that was responsible for SARS in 2006 and 2007.

Slovakia reported it had seen a jump in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks after neighbouring Croatia imposed a seven-week lockdown bringing the countrys total cases to 13 the highest in Europe aside from Greece.

Slovenia which has offered to gradually lift the lockdown reported the highest number of cases in the country by far but has so far reported only five deaths less than half the number of fatalities in neighbouring Croatia. Hungary has reported five deaths from COVID-19.

Ryan said estimates that as many as 36. 7 million people could be infected within a year – as much as 138 million by mid-century – are alarming but that the disease is likely to become more under-reported and the care of patients health workers and health workers will be key to controlling it.

The virus is not going anywhere until it has become a public health issue he said.

Asked about outright denial of the disease by some nations he said: Im not going to get into a more personal relationship with these people but I do believe theyre starting to lose faith in the ability to respond to this virus.