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19% drop in new COVID cases globally, deaths stable

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Police take over an intersection leading to Parliament on the ninth day of demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions in Wellington, New Zealand on Wednesday.

SWITZERLAND, MALAYSIA, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND: The number of new coronavirus cases globally fell by 19 per cent in the last week while the number of deaths remained stable, according to the World Health Organisation.

The UN health agency said late on Tuesday in its weekly report on the pandemic that just over 16 million new COVID-19 infections and about 75,000 deaths were reported worldwide last week.

The Western Pacific was the only region to report a rise in new weekly cases, an increase of about 19 per cent, Southeast Asia reported a decrease of about 37 per cent, the biggest drop globally. The number of deaths rose by 38 per cent in the Middle East and by about one-third in the Western Pacific.

The biggest number of new COVID-19 cases was seen in Russia. Cases there and elsewhere in Eastern Europe doubled in recent weeks, driven by a surge of the hugely infectious omicron variant.

WHO said that all other coronavirus variants, including alpha, beta and delta, continue to decline globally as omicron crowds them out. Among the more than 400,000 COVID-19 virus sequences uploaded to the world’s biggest virus database in the last week, more than 98 per cent were omicron.

WHO’s Africa Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said last week there was light at the end of the tunnel for the continent and that even despite low vaccination rates, Africa was transitioning from the acute pandemic phase of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s new coronavirus cases reached a record high, exceeding the level seen last year when the nation was in the throes of the Delta wave.

Malaysia joins neighbours Singapore and Indonesia in grappling with the worst daily COVID caseloads of the pandemic to date. New infections in Thailand rose to a five-month high last week, while Vietnam reported record cases on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Canadian Police issued an ultimatum on Wednesday to protesters who’ve been choking Ottawa streets for 20 days to leave the capital, as provincial and US state leaders called for an end to the cross-border vaccine requirement that sparked the trucker-led movement.

Officials, meanwhile, announced a negotiated peaceful end to the last of several recent blockades by protesters of border crossings between Canada and the United States.

Meanwhile, New Zealand COVID-19 infections reached a record high today as anti-vaccine protesters claimed victory after police failed to clear vehicles blocking the streets around Parliament.

Health authorities reported 1,160 new COVID cases, the most since the pandemic began, as the Omicron variant continues to spread in a country that was largely virus-free until August.

While there have only been 53 virus deaths in the nation of five million, some protesters have taken to the streets railing against COVID-related restrictions and a government vaccination drive.

Demonstrators inspired by Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” jammed roads with cars, trucks and campervans last week, then set up camp on the lawns of Parliament in the capital Wellington. -DECCAN CHRONICLE, THE BANGKOK POST, THE MALAY MAIL

Friday, February 18, 2022 – 01:00

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