Global COVID-19 cases continue to climb

For the fourth week in a row, the rate of new global COVID-19 cases rose, mainly led by surges in Europe but also influenced by spikes in the Americas and Western Pacific countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly pandemic update.

More regions show increases

Cases were up 6% last week compared with the week before, and though deaths were stable or declining in much of the world, fatality levels rose in Europe.

Of the top five countries that reported the most cases last week, four are in Europe: Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. However, the United States continues to lead the world with the most weekly cases.

Nearly half of European countries saw cases rise 10% or more last week, with surge locations distributed evenly across the region. Countries in Eastern Europe, where vaccine uptake is lower, were the first to report new illness spikes.

In the Western Pacific region, Fiji, Vietnam, and New Zealand reported the greatest changes. And in the Americas, the United States and Brazil were among the countries that reported modest rises.

At a WHO Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) briefing today, officials said some of the region's more populous countries—the United States, Brazil, and Colombia—have seen a leveling off or rising of cases following weeks of decline.

Uruguay and Chile, despite high vaccination levels, are reporting spikes that follow eased COVID-19 measures. Bolivia and Mexico are reporting increases, and some Caribbean countries and territories are reporting steady or sharp rises, PAHO said.

Carissa Etienne, MBBS, PAHO's director, said, "It bears repeating that the COVID pandemic is still very active in our region."

More global headlines

  • At least four European countries reported new daily record highs for cases: the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

  • More European countries are setting their sights on restrictions for unvaccinated people, including the Czech Republic, which has banned unvaccinated people from using public spaces and services, and Slovakia, which is considering tighter measures for the group against as the country's hospitals come under pressure.

  • South Korea is experiencing another surge in infections, which comes 3 weeks after it relaxed restrictions, according to the Washington Post. The country today reported its second highest daily case number of the pandemic, though about 80% of the eligible population is fully immunized.

  • Beijing imposed new restrictions to reduce spread from incoming travelers, just 3 months ahead of the Winter Olympic Games, according to France 24. People coming into the capital must test negative for COVID-19 before entry, and officials have cut the number of domestic flights arriving in Beijing.

  • The global total today climbed to 254,808,807 cases, and 5,120,934 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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