Coronavirus updates: Pandemic 'far from over' and 'the world should have listened,' WHO says

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 211,000 people worldwide.

More than three million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 988,000 diagnosed cases and at least 56,253 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:

7:24 a.m.: Family’s dog thought to be first in US to test positive for COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has been detected in a family’s pet dog taking part in a research study at Duke University in North Carolina, officials said.

The animal is participating in the “Molecular and Epidemiological Study of Suspected Infection.” Dr. Chris Woods, the lead investigator of the study, said he believes it’s the country’s first known positive case of COVID-19 in a canine.

“To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which the virus has been detected in a dog,” Woods told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. “Little additional information is known at this time as we work to learn more about the exposure.”

5:48 a.m.: New York City doctor who treated coronavirus patients dies by suicide

A New York City emergency room doctor who treated patients infected with the novel coronavirus has died by suicide, police said.

Dr. Lorna Breen, medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, was in Charlottesville, Virginia, when she died on Sunday. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment where she later succumbed to “self-inflicted injuries,” according to a press release from the Charlottesville Police Department.

“Frontline healthcare professionals and first responders are not immune to the mental or physical effects of the current pandemic,” Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said in a statement Monday. “On a daily basis, these professionals operate under the most stressful of circumstances, and the coronavirus has introduced additional stressors.”

“Personal protective equipment (PPE) can reduce the likelihood of being infected,” Brackney added, “but what they cannot protect heroes like Dr. Lorna Breen or our first responders against is the emotional and mental devastation caused by this disease.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said his daughter had contracted COVID-19 herself and recovered. A week and a half after returning to work, the hospital sent her home and her “family intervened to bring her to Charlottesville,” the newspaper reported. She was staying with family at the time of her death.

Breen’s father told The New York Times that she had no history of mental illness but that, when he last talked to her, she seemed “detached.”

“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” the elder Dr. Breen told the newspaper. “She tried to do her job, and it killed her.”

3:30 a.m: Pandemic ‘far from over’ and ‘the world should have listened,’ WHO says

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic is “far from over” and said “the world should have listened” to the agency three months ago when it declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.

After the new virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December and began to spread overseas, Tedros said the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak “the highest level of global emergency” on Jan. 30.

“During that time, as you may remember, there were only 82 cases outside China. No cases in Latin America, actually. No cases in Africa. Only 10 cases in Europe. No deaths in the rest of the world, nothing,” Tedros said. “And every country could have triggered all its public health measures possible.”

“The world should have listened to WHO then, carefully,” he added.

The declaration officially called a “public health emergency of international concern” — cannot force countries to take action, rather it’s merely guidance. The role of the WHO, the health arm of the United Nations, is only to offer advice “based on science and evidence,” and it’s up to governments “whether to take it or not,” Tedros said.

“We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach, and we said, find, test, isolate and do contract tracing,” he continued. “We don’t have any mandate to force countries to implement what we advise them.”

Tedros said the countries who followed the agency’s advice “are in a better position than others.”

“This is fact,” he added. “At the end of the day, each country takes its own responsibility.”  

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