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WHO Concerned about Coronavirus in Mideast

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2020 file photo, people wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, in the Tajrish traditional bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

CAIRO -- The World Health Organization says the coronavirus pandemic has reached “an alarming juncture” in Eastern Mediterranean countries.

Speaking at a virtual news conference in Cairo on Thursday, Rana Hajjeh, WHO Director of Program Management said: “There are about 3 million confirmed cases in the region and the number of COVID-19 associated deaths exceeds 75,000, with an overall death rate of 2.5%.”

She added the region has recently seen the highest weekly number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Our first and foremost line of defense in the battle against COVID-19 remains preventive public health and social measures,” said Hajjeh, noting the need for more wearing of masks and social distancing in the region.

The WHO Eastern Mediterranean comprises 21 states and the Palestinian territories, with a total population of more than 580 million.

Like Europe, these countries are bracing for a season where health care systems are expected to grapple with increasing cases of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.