Cases in Americas, Asia drive latest COVID-19 rise

With another steady increase in cases last week, the world is now adding more than 500,000 million cases a day, with the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) SARS-CoV-2 variant now in 132 of the world's 197 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its latest weekly update on the pandemic.

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said on Twitter today that there are marked regional differences and variations by and even within countries. She also warned that deaths were up sharply, rising by 21% compared to the week before. "These trends are extremely concerning," she said.

Global total nearing 200 million cases

Much of the recent rise is driven by substantial illness increases in the WHO's Americas and Western Pacific regions, with a large portion of the spike in deaths from the Americas and South East Asia regions, the WHO said. The global total could pass 200 million cases in the next 2 weeks, it added.

The five countries that reported the most cases over the last week include the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and India. Among the countries reporting the biggest increases in cases are France (up 178%), the United States (131%), Vietnam (95%) and Thailand (40%).

Eight more countries reported the Delta variant for the first time last week, putting the total at 132.

In the wake of the WHO's latest assessment, several of the world's current hot spots reported new record daily highs, including Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba, and South Korea. Japan today also reported a new single-day high with 9,576 cases, which includes nearly 3,200 from Tokyo, which is currently hosting the summer Olympic Games.

More global headlines

  • In Australia, a lockdown in the greater Sydney area has now been officially extended by 4 more weeks, as Delta activity remains persistent, with 177 more cases reported yesterday, up from 172 the day before, according to Reuters.

  • Russia, struggling with a protracted surge and sluggish vaccine uptake, has warned that workers who refuse immunization could face suspension without pay, according to the Washington Post. The country's uptake is currently at about 16%, despite ample supplies of Sputnik V and other vaccines.

  • A Cochrane Library review of randomized controlled trials of ivermectin for preventing and treating COVID-19 found that reliable evidence so far does not support its use outside of well-designed clinical trials. They wrote that confidence in the evidence to date is currently very low, because there were only 14 studies and few participants. The studies included publications through May 26.

  • The global total today rose to 195,344,715 cases, with at least 4,177,262 deaths, according to the New York Times tracker.

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