In its latest global COVID-19 update, the World Health Organization (WHO) said patterns reflect a mixed picture in its tracking over the last 28 days, with infections rising in the Eastern Mediterranean, South East Asia, and European regions. However, at the global level, cases declined 31%, and deaths were down 46% compared with the previous 4-week period.
In the Eastern Mediterranean region, which is seeing the steepest rise, Iran, Kuwait, and Pakistan reported the highest proportional increases. In South East Asia, the increase is led by a large spike in India, which had a 251% increase over the reporting period. And in Europe, nearly half of countries reported rises, with the highest proportional increases in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Ukraine. Also, Russia and Austria reported modest rises in new daily cases over the past 28 days.
In its variant update, the WHO said the proportion of the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant has risen to 37.7% globally, up from 29% in the last reporting period. It said XBB and related viruses are the only variants under monitoring that are rising, with the rest stable or decreasing.
White House to step down COVID response team
In other COVID developments, the White House will disband its COVID response team when the public health emergency winds down in May, the Washington Post reported yesterday, based on information from anonymous sources who have knowledge of international operations. An official said the move parallels the shift away from the emergency phase of the pandemic but that COVID-19 isn't over and is still an administration priority.