WHO: 'Aggressive measures' against coronavirus needed in Southeast Asia


Image: Volunteers use disinfectant to clean Wat Traimit temple in Bangkok on March 18, 2020, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
Volunteers use disinfectant to clean Wat Traimit temple in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.Mladen Antonov / AFP - Getty Images

The World Health Organization is asking countries in Southeast Asia to scale up their coronavirus response and take "aggressive measures" to combat the virus as the number of confirmed cases in the region has reached nearly 500.

"The situation is evolving rapidly," said the WHO's Southeast Asia Regional Director, Poonam Khetrapal Singh. "We need to immediately scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people."

Eight of the 11 countries in the region have confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, according to the WHO.

So far, Thailand has the most cases at 177, with Indonesia close behind with 134 and India with 125. Cases have also been confirmed in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

These numbers are increasing quickly, the WHO warned, and some countries are clearly heading towards community transmission of COVID-19.

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