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The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Europe is now the world’s COVID-19 pandemic epicenter, as cases in Italy and other nations on the continent soared, and as the WHO launched a new fundraising effort designed to expand donations from individuals and businesses to support the response.

At a media briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said global deaths from the novel coronavirus have reached 5,000, most of which are from China. But Europe is now reporting more cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, except for China.

“More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” he said, urging countries to take a comprehensive approach that doesn’t rely on testing, contact tracing, or social distancing alone.

Tedros warned that when countries observe what’s happening in other countries and think it won’t happen in their countries are making a deadly mistake. “It can happen to any country.”

In another development, he announced the launch of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which includes partners from the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation. It will allow individuals and organizations to contribute.

“Until now, we have been relying mainly on governments to support the response,” he said, adding that funds will be use to coordinate the response, buy equipment for healthcare workers, improve surveillance, and invest in research. “Now everyone can contribute.”

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