The number of new Covid-19 cases reported globally “appears to have hit a plateau” after rising for nearly two months, said the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO reported more than 4.5 million new cases and 68,000 new deaths worldwide last week – just a small increase from the more than 4.4 million cases and 66,000 deaths reported in the previous week.
The cumulative number of cases worldwide is now over 211 million, with total deaths exceeding 4.4 million, according to the WHO weekly epidemiological update.
New global cases appear to be stable after increasing since mid-June, noted the WHO in the report released on Monday.
The world had previously seen a plateau of global cases in May, according to the WHO, but the outbreaks, in part fueled by the highly communicable strain of Delta, have multiplied in many countries in the past two months.
The United States reported the highest number of new cases last week – 1.02 million, a 15% increase from the previous week – followed by Iran, India, the UK and Brazil.
The Western Pacific and the Americas registered the biggest increase in cases last week – 20% and 8%, respectively. Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean saw a decline in infections, while other regions saw stagnant cases, according to the WHO.
The increase in cases in the Western Pacific region was partially driven by the increase in the Delta outbreak in Australia. Over the past week, the country’s single-day case record has repeatedly hit new highs, surpassing its previous record in August of last year.
Infections are also on the rise in New Zealand, despite the country having designated a new national lockdown after confirming just one case of locally transmitted coronavirus last week. As of Wednesday (24), 62 new cases were reported, bringing the total of the ongoing outbreak to 210.
In recent days, authorities in both Australia and New Zealand have suggested a shift in approach to dealing with Covid-19, from trying to eradicate the virus to eventually learning to live with it.
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In an opinion piece published in Australian media on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested ending the country’s Covid-19 zero restrictions, saying the blockades “are sadly needed for now” but “will not be needed for much longer. time”.
He said the Australian government intended to shift its focus from reducing the number of cases to examining how many people were becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and requiring hospitalization.
On Monday, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told public broadcaster TVNZ that the Delta variant raised questions about the long-term viability of the country’s coronavirus elimination strategy.
“This means that all of our existing protections are starting to look less adequate and less robust.” As a result, we are looking very closely at what else we can do there.” But this raises some very big questions about the future of our plans,” he said.
In its weekly report, WHO noted the emergence of Covid-19 variants causing concern, including the highly transmissible Delta variant, and highlighted the need to increase vaccination as well as the importance of maintaining public health and social welfare measures. .
The agency cited a modeling study in England, which showed that delaying the relaxation of preventive measures reduced the peak of daily hospitalizations by almost three times.
“The relaxation of public health and social measures must therefore be carefully and cautiously balanced against levels of immunization coverage and the circulation of variants of concern,” WHO wrote.