The global count of deaths from COVID-19 is rising again in a span of six weeks, said a top World Health Organisation (WHO) expert on the coronavirus pandemic.
"I do want to mention that it had been about six weeks where we were seeing decreases in deaths," said Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the UN health agency. "In the last week, we've started to see a slight increase in deaths across the world, and this is to be expected if we are to see increasing cases. But this is also a worrying sign," she added.
The rise in global COVID-19 related deaths is followed by an increase in the active cases for the fifth straight week.
Kerkhove said Europe witnessed a 12 per cent increase last week.
She added that the number of reported cases went up in four of the WHO's six regions, though there were significant variations within each region.
According to Kerkhove, the surge is largely due to the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in many other places, including eastern Europe.
Southeast Asia registered a 49 per cent week-to-week jump in confirmed cases, while WHO's Western Pacific region reported a 29 per cent rise largely fueled by the Philippines, Van Kerkhove said.
WHO emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan acknowledged the urge among the public in many places to emerge from pandemic restrictions.
He insisted that any easing should coincide with measures such as strict case surveillance and high levels of vaccination, but said vaccines alone would not be enough.
"I'm afraid we're all trying to grasp at straws. We're trying to find the golden solution: So, we just get enough vaccine, and we push enough vaccine to people and that's going to take care of it," he said. "I'm sorry, it's not.
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