The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 5,000 worldwide and Europe has become the epicenter of the outbreak, the head of the World Health Organization has said.

WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at Friday’s daily briefing that the death toll has passed the “tragic milestone”. He told the virtual press conference that Europe has become the epicenter of the outbreak and the continent has more cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.

“More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” he said.

The global health body said it is “impossible” to say when the pandemic will peak and Tedros warned world governments that a raft of measures are needed to tackle the disease.

He said that any country that thinks it could not fall victim to a large outbreak of the Covid-19 illness is making a “deadly mistake”.

The health chief announced that the WHO is launching a Covid-19 solidarity response plan to enable individuals and organizations to contribute to disease control efforts.

The funds raised will be used to coordinate the response to tackling the crisis as well as buying masks, gloves, gowns, goggles and other essential materials. It will also be invested in research and development.

Speaking at the briefing, the WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan said that there is a major funding gap for potential vaccines against the virus.

The novel coronavirus outbreak started in China late last year but official figures show that the Asian country has stabilized the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, the number of cases in European countries has skyrocketed in recent weeks and it was declared a pandemic on Wednesday.

Powerful report from the War Room’s Owen Shroyer.

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