Global COVID cases level, deaths decline

South Korea COVID
South Korea COVID

Wonseok Jang/iStock

After a recent decline, global COVID-19 cases last week stabilized, with countries in some parts of Asia still the main hot spots, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in its weekly update on the pandemic.

Surges still accelerating in Japan and South Korea

Countries reported nearly 7 million cases last week, with the Western Pacific region the only WHO region to report rising cases. Surges are still underway in Japan, which is in its seventh wave. Japan's daily cases today topped 250,000 today for the first time, according to Kyodo News.

In South Korea—also experiencing a surge—cases reached a 4-month high today, reporting more than 151,000 cases, according to Yonhap News. Health officials said they expect daily cases to soon pass the 200,000 level.

Of nearly 7 million cases reported to the WHO last week, the five countries reporting the most cases were Japan, the United States, South Korea, Vietnam, and Turkey.

Deaths declined 9% last week compared to the previous week, with about 14,000 fatalities reported, the WHO said.

BA.5 Omicron subvariant lineages continue to increase their dominance, rising from 68.9% to 69.7%. Meanwhile, BA.4 decreased slightly, as did BA.2 and BA.2.12.1. The WHO said BA.5 descendent (BA.5.X) are increasing in diversity, with more mutations in both the spike and non-spike regions of the virus. "WHO continues to monitor all lineages, including descendent lineages of VOCs [variants of concern], to track an increase in prevalence and change in viral characteristics," the WHO said.

US continues slow decline in cases, but not deaths

In the United States, the 7-day average for new daily cases is 108,820, according to a Washington Post analysis. The level is slowly declining from 7-day averages that were in the 130,000 range at the end of July. Deaths, often a lagging indicator, aren't showing a similar decline, with the 7-day average for new daily deaths at 499, according to the Post.

Meanwhile, a new survey on impacts of the pandemic on Americans from the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that more than half (54%) know someone who died from COVID-19 and 31% know someone who has experienced long COVID. However, 41% said they have returned to their "normal pre-COVID life,” up from 16% in January.

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