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WHO Chief Warns Coronavirus Pandemic is Accelerating

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a mural depicting a tug-of-war between health workers and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro aided by a cartoon-styled coronavirus character, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 19, 2020.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a mural depicting a tug-of-war between health workers and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro aided by a cartoon-styled coronavirus character, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 19, 2020.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared Friday the coronavirus pandemic is "accelerating" and warned that lockdown measures are still needed to halt it.

"We are in a new and dangerous phase," Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva.

Tedros said more than 150,000 cases worldwide were reported Thursday, the largest one-day increase since the outbreak began in December. Significant numbers of the new cases were in South Asia and the Middle East.

As of Friday, there were more than 8.5 million cases worldwide, a quarter of which were in the U.S., the world leader with over 2.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.

Brazil is next with more than 978,000 and Russia comes in third with more 568,000.

Experts at the University of Washington's School of Medicine told the U.S.-based broadcasting network CBS News that according to their model, Brazil's death toll is poised to surpass that of the United States as early as next month.

Hopkins reports a U.S. death toll of 118,435 and a death toll of 47,748 for Brazil.

Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has dismissed COVID-19 as being nothing more than a "little flu" and said anyone worried about the virus is being neurotic. He has encouraged Brazilian businesses to reopen and states to lift their lockdowns.

Oklahoma rally

The managers of the Bank of Oklahoma Center, the arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where U.S. President Donald Trump is holding a Make America Great Again rally Saturday, have asked the president's campaign for a written health and safety plan for the massive rally that is being held in the midst of a global pandemic.

BOK Center officials said they requested the plan because Tulsa has experienced a recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

BOK officials said they will share the plans with the local health department when they receive them from the president's campaign.

The campaign has already agreed to conduct temperature checks on all attendees and to distribute masks and hand sanitizer to everyone.

The BOK Center holds 19,000 people. Campaign officials say more than one million people have expressed interest in attending the rally.

Victims of abuse

More and more children are victims of hate, bullying and violence because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new United Nations report says.

According to the experts, without access to support networks such as educators, friends and extended families they usually find at school, some children have been stranded in abusive homes with no place to turn for help as schools are locked down to control the spread of COVID-19.

Overall, about a billion children suffer from physical, sexual or psychological abuse each year, especially in places where the governments have failed to set up support programs. COVID-19 isolation is making the problem worse.

"There is never any excuse for violence against children," WHO chief Tedros said.

Lifting restrictions

In Iran, officials say regular Friday prayers will resume in Tehran next week despite a jump in the number of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

Iran had reported 197,647 confirmed cases and 9,272 deaths as of Thursday, according to trackers at Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus research center.

With a little over 100,000 cases, Canadian officials said the COVID-19 outbreak appears to be slowing.

While the 13 Canadian provinces and territories are starting to reopen their economies, major restrictions are still in place in the country's two biggest cities – Montreal and Toronto.

Californians are now required to wear face masks in most indoor and outdoor settings, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered Thursday.

"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," Newsom said. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."

The governor said since restrictions started to be lifted last month on restaurants and some stores, not enough people have been taking the proper precautions by covering their faces.

Wayne Lee, Fern Robinson and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.