European countries experience a spike in COVID-19 cases, WHO calls for quick action
French President Emmanuel Macron has said his country will be fighting the coronavirus until at least the middle of next year as cases there surged past a million.
On Friday, France recorded more than 40,000 new cases and 298 deaths. Other nations including Russia, Poland, Italy and Switzerland also saw new highs, the BBC reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the spike in European cases was a critical moment in the fight against the virus.
It called for quick action to prevent health services being overwhelmed.
Daily infections in Europe have more than doubled in the past 10 days. The continent has now seen a total of 7.8 million cases and about 247,000 deaths.
"The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
Globally there have been more than 42 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.
Speaking on a visit to a hospital in the Paris region, Macron said scientists were telling him that they believed the virus would be present "at best until next summer", he said.
But he said it was still too early to say whether France would go into a new full or partial lockdown.
An overnight curfew in the country is being extended to about two-thirds of the country -- 46 million people -- from Friday night for six weeks.
The curfew could be relaxed when new infections dropped back down to between 3,000 and 5,000 a day, Macron said -- a level of infection that was last seen at the end of August.
Meanwhile, the head of a Paris hospital group warned that the second wave of infections could be worse than the first.
"There has been a perception in recent months that a second wave does not exist, or that it is a small wave. The situation is the opposite," Martin Hirsch, the head of the AP-HP hospital group, told the local media.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the world was still at "a critical juncture" in its fights against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and called for "immediate action" as several countries have reported a resurgence in new confirmed cases.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday, Ghebreyesus said that the next few months are going to be very "tough" and some countries are on "a dangerous track", reports Xinhua news agency
"We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the northern hemisphere," he said.
"Too many countries are seeing an exponential increase in cases and that is now leading to hospitals and ICU running close or above capacity and we're still only in October," the Who chief added.
Ghebreyesus urged leaders to take immediate action, so as to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again.
Also addressing the briefing, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said that progress is being made on the plans for an international mission to identify the zoonotic source of the coronavirus.
She said the WHO has reached out to a group of international experts and is expected to share more information in the coming days.
"The first cases were detected in Wuhan of China last December, so the early studies will begin there," she said, adding that then the next phase of the studies will be developed as the evidence and results from the first phase become available.
"We will follow the science and follow the necessary steps that need to be taken," Van Kerkhove added.
As of Saturday morning, overall number of global coronavirus cases stood at 42,114,524, while the deaths have soared to 1,143,291, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
The US is the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 8,484,991 and 223,914, respectively, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.
India comes in second place in terms of cases at 7,761,312, while the country's death toll soared to 117,306.