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World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Tuesday to update the public on the coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than 11.6 million people across the globe, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
On Saturday, WHO released a situation report, which showed that the number of new Covid-19 cases worldwide reached a record high of 212,326 cases in the last 24 hours.
The biggest increase reported Saturday occurred in North and South America, which saw 129,772 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total in the region to nearly 5.6 million.
Brazil had the worst outbreak in the Americas with nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases so far, 48,105 of which were reported in the last 24 hours, according to WHO.
India also saw a large bump in new cases, with 22,771 new confirmed cases, for a total 648,315 cases in the country so far. At least 18,655 people have died in India with 442 of those fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.
“Some countries who have had success in suppressing transmission who are opening up now may have a setback, may have to implement interventions again, may have to implement these so-called lockdowns again,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit, at a news briefing last Wednesday in Geneva.
Amid the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases, health experts are speaking out about the role of the airborne spread of Covid-19. A group of 239 scientists from 32 different countries published an open letter to the WHO and other health agencies this week, calling for them to update their information on the coronavirus.
In an article entitled “It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19,” scientists wrote that the WHO has not given enough weight to the role of the airborne spread of the virus.
“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets [microdroplets] at short to medium distances [up to several meters, or room scale], and we are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission,” they wrote.
The organization’s current guidance states that the coronavirus is transmitted primarily between people via these respiratory droplets and contact. However, the group of experts outlined evidence that smaller particles, which can travel much greater distances, can also infect people.