'Will Reach 10 Million Coronavirus Cases Within A Week': WHO

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'Will Reach 10 Million Coronavirus Cases Within A
More than 9.1 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to the World Health Organisation, and more than 470,000 deaths, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media release on Wednesday.

In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO. In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported.

Also Read: COVID-19: Nearly 17,000 Cases In The Last 24 hours, Delhi Surpasses Mumbai As The Worst-Affected City

'We expect to reach a total of 10 million cases within the next week', the WHO chief said.

This is a sober reminder that even as we continue research into vaccines and therapeutics, we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives.

Crisis deepens amid a global shortage of oxygen equipment

One of the most effective ways of saving lives is providing oxygen to patients who need it. 

Several news reports published today have highlighted the vital role of oxygen in treating patients with severe and critical COVID-19.

This has been an area of intense focus for WHO since the beginning of the pandemic.

Patients with severe and critical COVID-19 cannot get enough oxygen into their blood by breathing normally. They need higher concentrations of oxygen and support to get it into their lungs.

Left untreated, severe COVID-19 deprives cells and organs of the oxygen they need, which ultimately leads to organ failure and death.

Medical oxygen is produced using oxygen concentrators, which extract and purify oxygen from the air.

WHO estimates that at the current rate of about 1 million new cases a week, the world needs about 620,000 cubic meters of oxygen a day, which is about 88,000 large cylinders.

However, many countries are now experiencing difficulties in obtaining oxygen concentrators.

80 percent of the market is owned by just a few companies, and demand is currently outstripping supply. 

WHO and our UN partners are working with manufacturers across the world through a variety of private sector networks to buy oxygen concentrators for countries that need them most. 

Ongoing talks with suppliers in recent weeks have enabled WHO to buy 14,000 oxygen concentrators, which will be sent to 120 countries in the coming weeks.

WHO has identified a further 170,000 concentrators that can be available over the next 6 months, with a value of US$100 million dollars. 

In addition, WHO has bought 9800 pulse oximeters, a simple device used to monitor oxygen in a patient’s blood, which are being prepared for shipment.

Another challenge is that many patients with critical disease need a higher flow rate of oxygen than is produced by most commercially available concentrators.

To address this challenge, WHO is supporting several countries to buy equipment that will enable them to generate their own concentrated oxygen in larger amounts. This is a sustainable solution for COVID-19 and beyond, but requires technical expertise for maintenance. 

WHO has also published technical specifications for the design of this equipment, as well as guidance for countries on oxygen sources and distribution. 

This is just one way in which WHO is continuing to support countries with science, solidarity and solutions.

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