July 20, 2020 / 3:18 PM / 22 days ago

CORRECTED-Indigenous people especially at risk from COVID-19, warns WHO

(Changes to 70,000 cases from 170,000 in second para)

GENEVA, July 20 (Reuters) - Indigenous communities comprising half a million people around the world are especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus pandemic due to often poor living conditions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.

Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that as of July 6, there were more than 70,000 cases reported among indigenous peoples in the Americas, with over 2,000 deaths

He urged nations to take all necessary health precautions, with special emphasis on contact tracing, to try and curb the COVID-19 disease’s spread.

“We do not have to wait for a vaccine. We have to save lives now,” he told a virtual briefing from the U.N. agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

Global infections stand at more than 14.5 million, according to a Reuters tally, with more than 600,000 deaths. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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