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WHO Says Europe Not China Is Now Epicentre Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic as it aggressively spreads through the continent — at the same time as it has slowed in China — the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The WHO warned that Europe has now become the "epicentre" for COVID-19, which is now reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of its outbreak, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the organisation.

“Our message to countries continues to be: you must take a comprehensive approach. Not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not quarantine alone, not social distancing alone – do it all,” he said

The coronavirus global death toll has reached almost 5,000, while the global number of cases has exceeded 132,000.

“Europe has now become the epicentre of the #COVID19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from #China. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” WHO said on Twitter.

According to Johns Hopkins University, around 68,000 victims have recovered from COVID-19.

The US has at more than 1,700 confirmed cases as of Friday morning, according to the university. Yet, with no widespread testing across the nation, the actual number of cases remains unknown.

Ambulance doctors guarding near the hospital infectious ward look at a doctor escorting allegedly infected woman downtown Kyiv, Ukraine. Image: Getty Images

On Friday, Trump declared the virus a national emergency opening the door to providing what he said was about $US50 billion ($A81 billion) in federal aid to fight the disease.

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Ghebreyesus said the death toll figure of 5,000 is “a tragic milestone”, and said the global health agency has plans to allow people and organisations to help fund masks, gloves, gowns and goggles for health workers, as well as diagnostic kits and investment in research and development, including for vaccines.

In Italy, the number of infections has soared by more than 2,500 in 24 hours, while deaths made the largest single-day leap to 250.

  • Italy has the most cases outside of China with at least 15,113 infections;
  • Spain is next at 4,334;
  • Germany follows at 3,156
  • France at 2,882

The virus has also spread to at least 18 countries on the African continent, with Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Guinea all confirming their first cases on Friday.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au