New Delhi: As the global number of COVID-19 cases increased to over 7.5 million, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it is “especially concerned” about the impact of the deadly virus on women, children and adolescents. “The indirect effects of COVID-19 on these groups may be greater than the number of deaths due to the virus itself”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a virtual press conference on Friday. Also Read - Is Coronavirus Airborne? Here's What 239 Scientists Told WHO

He asserted that women may have a heightened risk of dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth as the pandemic has overwhelmed health systems in many places. Also Read - China Did Not Report COVID-19 Outbreak in Initial Stages, WHO Takes U-Turn

Tedros added that WHO has developed guidance for health facilities and community activities on maintaining essential services, including for women, newborns, children and adolescents. As for the risks of women transmitting COVID-19 to their babies during breastfeeding, Tedros told reporters that based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19. Also Read - Coronavirus Vaccine Coming Soon, Know The Date Revealed by WHO Chief

“Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding and not be separated from their infants, unless the mother is too unwell,” he said.

Saying that early evidence suggests people in their teens and 20s are at greater risk of depression and anxiety, online harassment, physical and sexual violence and unintended pregnancies, Tedros also highlighted the “dramatic impact” of the virus on adolescents, as school and university closures may limit their access to preventive services.

Meanwhile, the overall number of coronavirus cases worldwide stood at 7,500,777, while the deaths increased to 420,993. The US continues with the world’s highest number of confirmed cases and deaths at 2,022,488 and 113,803, respectively, according to the CSSE.

(With IANS inputs)