WHO: Record weekly jump in COVID-19 cases, but fewer deaths

The World Health Organization said Thursday that there have been a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases over the past week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept across the planet, up 71% from the previous 7-day period the UN health agency compared with “tsunami”. However, the number of weekly deaths has decreased.

“Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a pandemic,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He said the WHO was confident that this was an underestimate due to the backlog in testing over the year-end holidays.

In its weekly pandemic report, the agency said the weekly tally was 9,520,488 new cases – last week there were 41,178 deaths, up from 44,680 the week before.

WHO officials have long noted the lag between the number of cases and deaths, with changes in the number of deaths often lagging by about two weeks behind the trend in the number of cases. But they also noted that for several reasons, including an increase in vaccinations in some locations and indications that omicron affects the nose and throat more than the lungs, omicron was not as deadly as the previous delta variant.

The rise in hospitalizations or deaths from the latest spike in cases is unlikely to show up in the next two weeks.

Although omicron appears to be less serious than delta, especially among people who have been vaccinated, the head of WHO warned: “This does not mean that it should be classified as lung. Like the previous options, the omicron hospitalizes people and kills people. “

“In fact, the tsunami of such cases is so large and fast that it affects health systems around the world,” the head of WHO said at a regular briefing.

The WHO reported that the rise in cases over the past week has varied, doubling in the Americas region but increasing only 7% in Africa.

WHO’s head of emergencies, Dr Michael Ryan, said the speculation that the omicron might be the last option for an outbreak was “wishful thinking” and warned, “There is still a lot of energy in this virus.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, added: “I think it is very unlikely that the omicron will be the last option we will discuss.”

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WHO officials have called on the public to step up responses to the pandemic, such as vaccinations, airing rooms, maintaining proper physical distancing and wearing masks – but properly.

“I’m amazed at how people actually wear masks,” Van Kerkhove said.

“Wearing a mask below the chin is useless. And it gives you a false sense of security that you have something to protect you. It won’t … Basically, we ask everyone to play their part in this. “

Separately, Ryan said WHO’s work with the International Olympic Committee and China to host the 2022 Winter Games has led him to “feel confident” that the measures taken by the organizers of the games were “very strict and very strong.” “

“At the moment, we do not see an increased risk of disease transmission in this context,” Ryan said.

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