Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
June 19 (UPI) -- The number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide hit about 150,000 on Thursday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization said Friday.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against complacency in efforts to contain COVID-19.
"The world is in a new and dangerous phase," he said during a news conference in Geneva. "Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies."
Tedros said nearly half of the new cases reported Thursday came from the Americas.
COVID-19 has sickened at least 8.57 million people across the globe and killed more than 450,000, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. Some 4.2 million people have recovered from the disease.
The United States has been the hardest hit country, with 2.2 million confirmed cases and more than 118,000 deaths. Nearly 600,000 have recovered in the country.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday predicted up to 145,000 people will have died in the United States from the virus by July 11. The agency based its forecast on an analysis of 21 individual models.
Tedros called on countries and individuals "to exercise extreme vigilance" to limit further spread of the virus.
"Continue maintaining your distance from others. Stay home if you feel sick. Keep covering your nose and mouth when you cough. Wear a mask when appropriate. Keep cleaning your hands," he said.
"We continue to call on all countries to focus on the basics: find, isolate, test and care for every case. Trace and quarantine every contact."
The WHO leader said refugees are particularly at risk because they have limited access to shelter, water, nutrition, sanitation and health services. More than 80 percent of refugees live in low- and middle-income countries where such resources are more scarce.
"WHO is deeply concerned about the very real and present danger of widespread transmission of COVID-19 in refugee camps," Tedros said.
A U.N. report released Thursday said more than 79 million were displaced in 2019 because of war, violence, persecution and other tragedies, doubling the number displaced a decade prior.
Saturday marks World Refugee Day.