WHO reports record number of new daily coronavirus cases as total nears five million

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The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday (May 20) for the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations emerge from lockdown.

The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began, as the total number of cases world-wide approached five million.

Speaking at a news conference, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two thirds of those cases had come from just four countries.

The WHO has come under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump, who accuses it of having mishandled the outbreak and favouring China. This week Trump threatened to withdraw from the WHO and permanently withhold funding.

Tedros acknowledged having received a letter from Trump, but declined to comment further.

In comments that could annoy Trump further, the head of the WHO’s emergency programme, Dr. Mike Ryan, told the press conference that people should avoid using the malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine, except for conditions it is proven to treat. Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection.

Tedros said he was committed to accountability. The WHO has announced a review into the response to the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year.

“WHO calls for accountability more than anyone. It has to be done and when it’s done it has to be a comprehensive one,” he said of the review, while declining to give a timeline for it starting.

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