WHO: Coronavirus global death toll to accelerate within weeks

WHO: Coronavirus global death toll to accelerate within weeks
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The coronavirus global death toll will accelerate within weeks, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the rise should not “be a surprise.”

The coronavirus pandemic manifests signs of spreading further across the globe, and this could mean a rise in the coronavirus death toll.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said that the number of coronavirus cases worldwide increased for the month of June while the death toll has been declining.

However, WHO officials noted a lag between increasing cases and deaths. It takes weeks after getting the virus to feel seriously sick and potentially die from the disease.

“Some of this may be lag, we may see deaths start to climb again because we’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases over the last five to six weeks,” Ryan said said at a news conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

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“I don’t think it should be a surprise if the deaths start to rise again. It will be very unfortunate, but it may happen,” he noted.

Additional cases

Ryan said that Latin America “doesn’t look good” and the WHO is “concerned” about North America, except for Canada. Based on the Johns Hopkins University data, the coronavirus global death has already reached 538,700 and at least 130,300 in the US.

“If you imagine that somewhere in April and May we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day, today we’re dealing with 200,000 cases a day, and that is not purely a result of testing,” Ryan said.

Dexamethasone

However, he mentioned several advancements in caring for coronavirus patients. Those who are most at risk were able to receive treatment fast. Drugs such as dexamethasone have been proven effective for seriously ill patients.

According to a team of researchers in England, dexamethasone is promising in terms of ensuring the survival of Covid-19 patients.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, said that dexamethasone also has a half-life of up to 54 hours. This helps “to assure a therapeutic level of medication to treat ongoing inflammation.”

As testing increases, the number of fatalities has become a smaller proportion compared with cases.

“The leveling of the number of deaths globally is because of some countries [have contained the virus], but in many countries it’s on the rise,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor of medicine at Yale, recommends dexamethasone because it is a glucoocorticoid.

But factors like timing and selectiveness among patients are important in ensuring the use of dexamethasone as a treatment for Covid-19.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, clarified that there are many differences between countries and their reported death count so comparing them would be difficult.

“It will take us some time to really understand mortality but, having said that, there are many things we can do now to prevent infections and by preventing infections we are ultimately preventing the opportunity for someone to advance to serious disease and death,” Kerkhove said.

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