GENEVA – The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths in the world continued to decline last week, continuing the decline that first began in March.
In its weekly pandemic report, the UN health agency said there were about 3.8 million new infections and more than 15,000 deaths last week, down 17 percent and 3 percent over the week, respectively. But it is believed that these figures significantly underestimate the real victims of COVID-19, as more and more countries are refusing extensive testing and surveillance.
However, the WHO noted that the incidence had increased by about a third in Africa and by 13 percent in America. India has also seen a nearly 70 per cent jump in deaths, although this was due to delayed reports rather than a recent outbreak.
Last week, authorities in South Africa said they noted an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 associated with the omicron mutant BA.4, although they said it was too early to say whether this would lead to a significant new wave of the disease.
Although the BA.4 version of the omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to be more infectious than omicron, WHO has stated that there is no evidence yet that this leads to significantly higher rates of hospitalization or death.
Salim Abdul Karim, a health expert at KwaZulu-Natal University, said that although there had been only a “modest” increase in cases, South Africa was also in the middle of a holiday period, and testing had dropped significantly. He said the cases were slowing down and “not going on an upward trajectory like the rocket we would have expected” in another outbreak.
At a news briefing on Wednesday, WHO Emergency Situations Minister Dr Michael Ryan said it would soon be known whether COVID-19 would be seasonal, and warned that countries were lifting all their restrictions too soon – as many in the West had done. .
“The jury does not yet know how seasonal the virus will be,” he said, explaining that it has not yet been proven that COVID-19 will naturally disappear in the summer and that the world may still face more alarming options. “If people get bored in an environment where a new option is spreading, you’ll see a high level of transmission,” he said.
Meanwhile in China, authorities continued repression in cities including Beijing, where more than 10 percent of the subway system was shut down in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus after the capital’s authorities had already closed indoor canteens, gyms and school classrooms.
In Shanghai, harsh and widely ridiculed restrictions have led to food and health care shortages along with a wider – albeit probably temporary – impact on the national economy. Desperate, outraged citizens opposed the authorities at barricades and on the Internet, shouting from their windows and knocking on pots and pans in frustration and anger.
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