Though COVID-19 cases and deaths don't accurately reflect global trends due to decreased testing and reporting, the indicators declined over the past 28 days except for in the Western Pacific region, where South Korea is reporting a steady rise in cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its latest weekly COVID-19 update.
A number of countries are leaning more on hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) admission trends to gauge COVID activity, but the WHO notes that very few countries are reporting those numbers. Of 17 countries that consistently report hospitalization data, only two reported rises of 20% or more over the last month: Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan. The United States and Greece reported smaller rises. Of 13 countries that consistently report ICU admissions, three showed an increase of 20% or more over the last 4 weeks: Latvia, Ireland, and Greece.
In its discussion of variant trends, the WHO said EG.5 has been reported from 48 countries and is currently the only variant showing increasing proportions. Yesterday, the WHO published a risk assessment of EG.5 and elevated it to a variant of interest alongside XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.16.
Though EG.5 is increasing in proportions as hospitalizations rise, albeit at lower levels than earlier waves, in countries such as South Korea and Japan, no associations have been made between the two trends. "However, due to its growth advantage and immune escape characteristics, EG.5 may cause a rise in case incidence and become dominant in some countries or even globally," it said.