Global Covid cases remain high, but leveling off: WHO

Global Covid cases remain high, but leveling off: WHO

'As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere', said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Credit: Reuters photo

Reports of new coronavirus cases around the world are showing signs of flattening, even though they are still rising rapidly in the United States, the World Health Organization said in its latest weekly assessment.

In the week ended Aug. 22, the WHO said, some 4.5 million new cases were reported worldwide, about the same as the week before, and the rate now “seems to be stable” after two months of sustained growth.

“It is stable at a very high level,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the organisation, said at a news briefing. “As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere.”

Deaths reported from Covid-19 were also similar to the previous week, at 68,000 overall, though they continued to rise in Europe and the Americas, the WHO said.

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The United States reported the most new cases and deaths of any country, and a 15% increase in cases from the week before, the WHO noted, as the delta variant spread rapidly and politicians sparred over whether to reintroduce mitigation measures. The country recorded 6,712 deaths for the week, an increase of 58% from the previous week.

Cases are also rising fairly rapidly in Britain, which recorded 219,919 new cases for the week, an 11% increase, the WHO said. Iran and India each reported more new cases than Britain did, but their figures and those of Brazil, another major locus of the pandemic, fell last week.

Japan, host to the Olympic Games and now the Paralympic Games, reported the fastest case growth — its 149,057 new cases for the week represented an increase of 34% from the week before. Some Southeast Asian countries, particularly Malaysia and the Philippines, also reported significant increases in cases, while Thailand and the Philippines reported sharp increases in deaths.

So far, the WHO said, about 211 million people around the world have had confirmed coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, and just more than 4.4 million people are recorded as dying from Covid-19.

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