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COVID-19 cases on rise across the world, says WHO; top updates this week

COVID-19 cases on rise across the world, says WHO; top updates this week

The UN health agency, in its report also said that there were over 11 million new COVID-19 infections last week - nearly an 8% rise from the previous week - and 43,000 new deaths.

In addition to this, an affordable version of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid will be made by 35 drug makers worldwide In addition to this, an affordable version of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid will be made by 35 drug makers worldwide

The number of COVID-19 related deaths reported from across the globe dropped 17%, while infections have suddenly shot up, revealed the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its weekly report on the pandemic issued on Wednesday, March 16.

The UN health agency, in its report also said that there were over 11 million new COVID-19 infections last week - nearly an 8% rise from the previous week - and 43,000 new deaths, Associated Press reported. Globally, the number of COVID-19 deaths has also been dropping for the past three weeks, WHO added.

Western Pacific and Africa witnessed the biggest increase in cases, where the COVID-19 infections jumped 29% and 12%, respectively. WHO noted that although COVID has been dropping in numerous regions, the Western Pacific has seen rising numbers since December.

On the other hand, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas saw the number of cases drop by almost 20%. In Europe, cases increased by 2%.

The global health agency also noted that these numbers “should be interpreted with caution” as many countries are changing their COVID-19 testing strategies, and are testing far fewer people than previously. This also suggests that many new cases might be going undetected.

Countries such as Sweden and the UK, which have announced plans to drop widespread testing for COVID-19 in recent weeks, said that the massive investment is no longer worth the effort.

Moreover, Britain saw a slight increase in infections, hospitalisations and deaths; driven by the more infectious omicron sub-variant BA.2. Suspension of nearly all COVID-19 protocols, which led to more people abandoning masks and gathering in larger numbers, was also among the major contributing factors.

China, which is witnessing the fast-spread of stealth omicron variant - the country's biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic two years ago - has banned most people from leaving a coronavirus-hit north-eastern province and mobilised military reservists from Monday.

The southern city of Shenzhen, which has a population of 17.5 million people and is a major tech and finance hub that borders Hong Kong, has also recently been locked down by Chinese officials amid the reports of some of the highest COVID-19 death rates.

Even as authorities lock down cities in China, they are looking for an exit from what has been a successful but herculean COVID-19 prevention strategy.

South Korea, with 621,328 COVID cases and 429 deaths, witnessed a new record, said authorities on Thursday. The southeast Asian nations, which have seen one of the lowest death rates globally, are also planning to end the COVID-related restrictions.

In addition to this, an affordable version of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid will be made by 35 drug makers worldwide, reported Reuters. These vaccine doses will be supplied to 95 poor countries.

According to some experts, Europe has already been hit by a fresh wave of COVID, while Germany is preparing to lift restrictions despite a new record spike in the number of coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Experts around the globe have been blaming vaccine equity as a reason for concern to stop the fresh waves of COVID-19. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States of America, has also said that restrictions will have to be back if cases continue to rise.

(With input from agencies)

Published on: Mar 18, 2022, 4:06 PM IST
Posted by: Vivek Dubey, Mar 18, 2022, 3:59 PM IST