WHO Reports Highest Single-Day Rise in Coronavirus Cases Due to Developing Countries As Wealthier Nations Begin to Reopen

More COVID-19 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the last 24 hours than on any day since the pandemic began, the WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

Nearly 4.8 million cases have been reported worldwide since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Though Ghebreyesus said during a Wednesday news conference that nearly two-thirds of the new cases were reported in just four countries, he said the WHO was especially concerned about rising case counts in low-income regions of the world.

"In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO –- the most in a single day since the outbreak began," Ghebreyesus said. "We're very concerned about the rising numbers of cases in low- and middle-income countries."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
A TV grab taken from the World Health Organization website shows WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus via video link as he delivers a news briefing on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 30, 2020. On Wednesday, Ghebreyesus said the WHO had received its largest report of new cases in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began, with 106,000 new cases reported worldwide. AFP via Getty Images

The record report came as many of the world's wealthier countries were preparing to lift restrictions imposed on residents to prevent further spread of the virus. In the U.S., several states have begun easing lockdown restrictions over the last few weeks, despite persisting high case counts around the country. According to recent situation reports published by the WHO, the U.S. reported 45,251 new cases on Tuesday alone.

The U.S. surpassed China as the country with the most COVID-19 cases by the end of March and has kept its top position ever since, with more than 1.5 million cases confirmed nationwide by Wednesday morning. Russia and Brazil, which hold the second- and third-place positions in terms of country case counts, also reported thousands of new cases to the WHO over the last few days.

While the U.S., Russia and Brazil have in recent days been reporting higher case increases than any other nation, the WHO said countries like India and Bangladesh were in need of just as much attention and assistance. Though the 20,810 new cases in India and the 5,056 new cases in Bangladesh reported to the WHO this week are dwarfed by the number reported in a single day by the U.S., the lower-middle-income status of each country, coupled with natural challenges posed by weather events in recent days caused Ghebreyesus to raise concern over the residents' battles with the virus. Amid rising case counts, both India and Bangladesh were in the path of Cyclone Amphan this week, a storm that forced the evacuation of millions and threatened efforts made to stem the spread of the virus as people sought refuge at evacuation centers.

The WHO "continues to offer support to Bangladesh and India to tackle both COVID-19 and the effects of the super cyclone," Ghebreyesus said.

As Ghebreyesus recognized the challenges India and Bangladesh were facing in managing the spread of COVID-19, he cheered the testing and contact tracing efforts made in South Korea and applauded the technology in development in Costa Rica to grant more people around the world access to health products as dozens of development teams around the world raced to create effective vaccines.

Though significant progress has been made, Ghebreyesus said the world still has "a long way to go in this pandemic."

"The pandemic has taught and informed many lessons: Health is not a cost; it's an investment," Ghebreyesus "To live in a secure world, guaranteeing quality health for all is not just the right choice; it's the smart choice."