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Coronavirus: Cases nearing 100,000 worldwide, WHO says

By
Don Jacobson & Darryl Coote
A woman is seen at a store with mostly empty shelves on Thursday as panic buying is starting to hit certain areas due to the threat of the coronavirus in Beijing, China. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
A woman is seen at a store with mostly empty shelves on Thursday as panic buying is starting to hit certain areas due to the threat of the coronavirus in Beijing, China. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

March 6 (UPI) -- The number of COVID-19 cases is approaching 100,000 worldwide, including 2,736 new cases across 47 countries in the past 24 hours, World Health Organization officials said in an update Friday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva the number of reported cases as of Friday morning was 98,023 and the death toll 3,380.

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"We are now on the verge of reaching 100,000 confirmed cases," he said, urging all nations to make containment their highest priority.

"We continue to call on countries to find, test, isolate and care for every case, and to trace every contact," he added, emphasizing that "whole-of-government" measures are needed to buy time for researchers to develop a vaccine.

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"Every day we can slow down the epidemic is another day hospitals can prepare themselves for cases."

Ghebreyesus said scientists are working on measures to fight the disease and said the WHO published a "road map" to distill ideas from hundreds of researchers into a core group of priorities.

Earlier, China reported 143 new cases and an increased death toll of 3,042. Officials in Hubei province reported no new cases outside Wuhan -- a first since the outbreak began -- but the city accounted for 126 of the new cases.

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Although Chinese cases seem to be slowing, Europe's are growing. Italy said Friday it has almost 4,000 cases and Germany has more than 500. Spain, Switzerland and Britain all have more than 100 cases.

In Italy, the first case has also appeared at the Vatican -- in its outpatient healthcare clinic in St. Peter's Square. Officials responded by temporarily closing the facility for disinfection, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The clinic serves the homeless population, migrants and others who congregate around the square.

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"The directorate of health and hygiene is informing the competent Italian authorities and, in the meantime, the planned health protocols have been initiated," Bruni added.

In Canada, health officials recorded the nation's first community transmission. The woman, in her 50s, has no recent travel history, British Columbia health officials said in a statement.

The Philippines also reported its first community transmission -- a 62-year-old man who regularly visited a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan City.

"These recent developments are significant, but we are prepared to respond to its potential consequences," Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Tiongson Duque III said in a statement.

South Korea, which has the world's second-highest number of cases, continued to grow Friday. Officials recorded hundreds of new cases and raised the total to nearly 6,300.

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India diagnosed another patient, raising its total to 31, and advised mass gatherings to be canceled or postponed until the spread is contained.

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