May 20 (UPI) -- World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday marked a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic -- the largest single-day total of confirmed cases.
He said public health officials reported 106,000 cases of the virus in the past 24 hours, two-thirds of which came from four countries.
While Ghebreyesus didn't specify which four countries he was talking about, the United States, Russia, Brazil and Britain account for the most confirmed cases at more than 2.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
"We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," Ghebreyesus said.
As countries conduct more testing and more positive results are returned, the globe is likely to surpass 5 million confirmed cases over the next 24 hours.
Johns Hopkins' global tracker says there are 4.96 million cases worldwide, with at least 325,800 deaths. Of the confirmed cases, 1.87 million have recovered from COVID-19.
"We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries," Ghebreyesus said. "The pandemic has taught and informed many lessons. Health is not a cost; it's an investment.
"To live in a secure world, guaranteeing quality health for all is not just the right choice; it's the smart choice."
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Emergencies Program, meanwhile, warned people not to use hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment or prevention. His comments on the malaria drug came two days after President Donald Trump told reporters he's taking the drug to prevent COVID-19.
Scientific studies show there's little evidence the drug successfully treats the virus and the Food and Drug Administration warned it causes serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, including heart rhythm problems.
Trump said Wednesday afternoon that he plans to stop taking hydroxychloroquine "in a day or two."