The spread of coronavirus in the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Many of them are unaware they are infected because they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms of Covid-19, the WHO warned.

They unknowingly pass on the virus to others, Takeshi Kasai, WHO’s regional director based in Manila, told an online press conference.

“This increases the risk of spillovers to the most vulnerable, the elderly, the sick people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated urban areas and underserved rural areas,” he noted. “We must redouble our efforts to stop the virus from moving into the vulnerable communities.”

The Western Pacific region, which covers 27 countries in Asia and the Pacific, has so far confirmed more than 400,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 9,300 deaths, the WHO says. This accounts for 2.3 percent of global infections.

WHO officials believe Asia-Pacific countries have entered “a new phase of the pandemic.” Many governments are adopting new tactics and strategies that minimize large-scale disruptions to people’s lives and economies while responding to Covid-19.

Outbreaks are being detected earlier, while authorities are responding to them faster with more targeted interventions, Kasai said.

“The epidemic is changing,” the official said. However, while mutations have been observed, the WHO still sees the virus as “relatively stable.” The WHO also reminded drugmakers to follow all necessary research and development steps when creating a vaccine.

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