The World Health Organization said the United States could become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told Reuters Tuesday that due to the "very large acceleration" in cases in the U.S., the country could become the new center of the outbreak. In a 24-hour time period reported Tuesday morning, the U.S. accounted for 40% of the new cases identified in the world.
WHO reported 45% of those new cases came from Europe, currently the epicenter of the virus. However, Harris said both fatalities and new cases have begun to taper off in hard-hit countries like Italy. Experts have put Europe's outbreak as further along than in the U.S.
Harris called the U.S. forecast only a possibility, however. She credited increased testing numbers, isolation of the sick, and community support as positive steps to preventing further infections. Many U.S. governors and mayors have issued lockdown orders on populated areas.
The U.S. has 51,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 674 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University. Around the world, over 414,000 people have contracted the virus, with about 18,500 deaths. Nearly 108,000 have recovered.