Dr Michael Ryan, the organisation’s head of emergencies, warned that 90 per cent of the world may still be at risk for Covid-19.
Speaking to a meeting of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on Covid-19 on Monday, Dr Ryan said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”
“Our current best estimates tell us about 10 per cent of the global population may have been infected by this virus,” he said.
“It varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies depending on groups. But what it does mean is that the vast majority of the world remains at risk.
“We are now heading into a difficult period. The disease continues to spread.”
The estimate would amount to more than 760 million people based on current world population of about 7.6 billion.
It far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both the WHO and Johns Hopkins University – more than 35 million worldwide.
The WHO has submitted a list of experts to take part in an international mission to China to investigate the origin of coronavirus, for consideration by Chinese authorities, Dr Ryan added.