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Europe now 'the epicenter of the pandemic,' WHO says

Europe has "more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China," the World Health Organization said.
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More coronavirus cases are reported each day outside of China than China reported at the peak of its epidemic, the World Health Organization said Friday.

"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during a media briefing.

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According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there were more than 137,000 cases worldwide as of Friday afternoon.

China has reported the most cases by far, at nearly 81,000. But new cases in China continue to decline, while cases elsewhere are increasing.

Italy has reported more than 15,000 cases. Iran has more than 11,000.

"Most countries now have a national plan; most are taking a multisectoral approach and most have laboratory testing capacity," Tedros said Friday.

One country with a glaring testing problem has been the United States, which stumbled in ramping up testing for the coronavirus during the first weeks of the outbreak. More than 2,000 cases have been detected in the U.S.

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"Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks 'that won't happen to us' is making a deadly mistake," Tedros said. "It can happen to any country."

More than 5,000 deaths have been reported globally, including 41 in the U.S.

The WHO, which declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a pandemic Wednesday, suggests countries take a comprehensive approach to controlling and slowing the spread of the outbreak.

That includes testing, contact tracing, quarantine and social distancing.

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