The world’s top health authority warned Monday that the coronavirus pandemic is picking up pace and will continue to spread further as the number of new cases being reported each day vastly exceeds the daily figures from weeks ago, when the illness hadn’t spread to nearly every country on earth.

“The pandemic is accelerating,” Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, said in a daily news briefing in Geneva.

“It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” he said.

More than 300,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

The highly contagious disease, which was affecting mostly China for several weeks, has now been spread to more than 150 countries and territories.

The pandemic has killed more than 16,000 people – mostly in China, Italy and Spain – and is having a massive impact on the global economy as more than 1.5 billion people are told to stay home to contain the spread of the virus.

“Numbers matter, because they’re not just numbers,” Ghebreyesus said. “They’re people, whose lives and families have been turned upside down. But what matters most is what we do.

“You can’t win a football game only by defending. You have to attack as well,” he said, noting that asking people to self-isolate is important to buy time, but it’s not enough.

“To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics – testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and tracing and quarantining every close contact.”

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