Global COVID-19 cases, deaths continue steady rise

As COVID cases rose for the seventh week in a row last week, the biggest jumps were in South Asia and the Middle East, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly snapshot of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, countries continue to look at their options for vaccines, as regulators in different parts of the world investigate reports of very rare blood clot events with the two major adenovirus-vector vaccines that have been launched.

Surges in multiple regions

The countries reporting the biggest increases last week include Iran (cases up 75%), India (70%), Argentina (52%), Turkey (33%), Japan (28%), Bangladesh (26%), and Iraq (22%).

India today reported a new daily record high of 184,372 cases, with Maharashtra state, the country’s epicenter, set to enter a full lockdown tonight, slated to last until the end of April, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the surge has led to shortages of oxygen in some hospitals across the country.

The WHO said global deaths were up for the fourth week in a row and in all regions except for Africa and the Americas. The biggest rise in fatalities—an increase of 189%—came from the Western Pacific region, which the WHO said was driven by a steep fatality rise in the Philippines.

The number of countries reporting the three SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern continued to rise, with 132 now reporting B117, 82 reporting B1351, and 52 reporting P1.

At a briefing today with officials from the WHO’s Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, MBBS, MSc, the group’s director, said South America continues to be an epicenter, with cases rising sharply in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and some parts of Bolivia. Other countries in the region have experienced continuing rises, with variant activity driving rises in French Guiana and Guyana.


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