Many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected," Ryan said. He was flanked by his boss, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who minutes earlier led a moment of silence to honor victims as well as round of applause for the health workers who have strived to save them.
Ryan said southeast Asia faced a surge in cases, Europe and the eastern Mediterranean were seeing an increase in deaths, while the situations in Africa and the Western Pacific were rather more positive.
"Our current best estimates tell us that about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus, Ryan told attendees from member governments who make up the executive board and provide much of its funding.
The estimate which would amount to more than 760 million people based on a current world population of about 7.6 billion far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University, now more than 35 million worldwide.
Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.
The comments came during a special session of the executive board to consider the follow-up to its previous meeting, in May, that passed a resolution to look into the world's and WHO's response to the pandemic. Ryan warned that the world was "now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world.
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