The World Health Organisation (WHO) says confirmed cases of COVID-19 have continued to rise around the world for the fourth consecutive week, with around 3.3 million new cases reported in the past seven-day period.
The UN health agency stated this in its Weekly Epidemiological Update posted on its website.
According to WHO, the number of new deaths from the coronavirus levelled off after a six-week decrease, with just over 60,000 new deaths reported.
It noted that “Europe and the Americas continued to account for nearly eight in 10 of all cases and deaths.
“The only region with report of decline in fatalities was the Western Pacific, down nearly a third, compared to the previous week.
“Infections rose notably in South East Asia, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean’’.
In the African region and the Americas, it stated that infection remained stable in recent weeks, “with concerning trends in some countries within the regions.
“These include Brazil, where the highest numbers of new cases were reported (508,010 new cases in a week, representing a three per cent increase).
“The United States saw 374,369 new cases – a 19 per cent decrease – while India saw 240,082 new cases, a 62 per cent increase.
“France saw 204,840 new cases (up 27 per cent) and Italy saw little change, with a recorded 154,493 new cases.”
WHO, however, said that latest data on coronavirus variants indicated that the so-called “UK” strain was present in 125 countries, across all six global regions.
It stated that the variant – VOC202012/01 – might be associated with increased risk of hospitalisation, severity and mortality.
WHO pointed to a study involving 55,000 COVID-19 patients between last October and January, where deaths from the UK variant stood at 4.1 per 1,000 compared with 2.5 per 1,000 among those infected with the previously circulating coronavirus.
It stated that “in a more positive note, data from vaccine tests conducted in England from December 2020 to February 2021 – when VOC202012/01 was very prevalent.
“Also, the so-called South African variant – 501Y.V2 – is now present in 75 countries across all regions, in over 90 per cent of sequenced specimens in some settings.”
Globally, there were 123,419,065 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2,719,163 deaths reported to WHO as at March 23.
As of March 22, 2021, a total of 403,269,879 vaccine doses had also been administered. (NAN)