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GENEVA - Coronavirus has infected more than half a million people and killed 20,000, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday as he appealed again for protective gear for medical staff working to save lives.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, speaking to a Geneva news conference, also urged countries to refrain from using medicines that have not been demonstrated to be effective against COVID-19.

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Tedros, without giving specifics, thanked “various national organisations” that had provided what he called critical cyber intelligence after a rise in online scams and cyber attacks on the U.N. agency and on himself.

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Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London

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