U.S. has potential of becoming coronavirus epicentre, says WHO

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[March 24, 2020]    GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization said on Tuesday it was seeing a "very large acceleration" in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicentre.

A deserted Times Square is pictured following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicentre, Harris said: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential.

"...They (the United States) have a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity," Harris added.

Overall, the global outbreak was accelerating very rapidly and she expected large increases in case numbers and deaths from the 334,981 cases and 14,510 deaths reported.

(Reporting by Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Alison Williams)

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