As much as 10 percent of the world’s population may have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated on Monday.
The United Nations (UN) agency’s head of emergency response said at a briefing that millions of people remain at risk of contracting the virus due to persistent outbreaks in Southeast Asia and Europe, according to multiple news outlets.
“Our current best estimates tell us about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus. It varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies depending on groups. But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk,” Dr. Michael Ryan said, according to Reuters.
“We are now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread,” he continued.
Reuters also reported that the WHO official appeared to criticize China’s efforts to stop the virus from spreading in his remarks, blasting the country for a “failure” to provide accurate information to public health officials.
His comments come as the U.S. has for months accused China’s government of not doing enough to ensure that public health officials had access to accurate data about COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic’s emergence in Wuhan, China.
U.S. officials have up until now also blamed the WHO for past statements they argued were too deferential to Chinese authorities, criticism which led the Trump administration to withdraw the U.S. from the organization.
Other top U.S. officials such as President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE have attempted to coin nicknames for the virus linking it to China, efforts which have been sharply criticized as leading to instances of discrimination and bigotry against Asian-Americans.