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WHO: 17 percent drop in new COVID deaths, but cases rising

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Israel records new COVID variant
Residents line up to wait for COVID tests at a test site near the slogan "Wear your mask properly, Keep a metre apart" in Beijing, China.

SWITZERLAND, ISRAEL: The World Health Organisation says the number of new coronavirus deaths reported worldwide fell by 17% in the last week even as COVID-19 infections rose

The number of new coronavirus deaths reported worldwide fell by 17% in the last week while COVID-19 infections rose, reversing a decline in cases that first began in January, according to the World Health Organization.

In the UN health agency’s weekly report on the pandemic issued on late Tuesday, WHO said there were more than 11 million new COVID-19 infections last week – about an 8% rise – and 43,000 new deaths. The number of COVID-19 deaths globally has been dropping for the past three weeks.

The biggest increase in cases were seen in the Western Pacific and Africa, where infections rose by 29% and 12% respectively. Elsewhere, cases dropped by more than 20% in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas. In Europe, cases inched up by about 2%.

WHO said those numbers “should be interpreted with caution.” It noted that many countries are changing their COVID-19 testing strategies as they exit the acute phase of the pandemic, and are testing far less than previously, meaning that many new cases are going undetected.

In recent weeks, countries including Sweden and the U.K. have announced plans to drop widespread testing for COVID-19, saying the massive investment is no longer worth the effort. Still, infections, hospitalisations and deaths have increased slightly in Britain, driven by the more infectious omicron subvariant BA.2. Another contributing factor has been the suspension of nearly all COVID-19 protocols as more people abandon masks and gather in larger numbers.

WHO noted that although COVID-19 has been dropping in numerous regions, the Western Pacific has seen rising numbers since December.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Ministry of Health said Wednesday it had recorded two cases of new COVID variant, but which officials said they were not unduly worried about.

The strain, combining two sub-variants of the Omicron version of the COVID-19 virus — dubbed BA.1 and BA.2 — was recorded during PCR tests on two passengers arriving at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport. More than four million people out of Israel’s population of 9.2 million have received three coronavirus vaccine shots.

A total of almost 1.4 million cases of COVID infection, including 8,244 deaths, have been officially recorded in the country. – THE HINDU, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES


Friday, March 18, 2022 – 01:00

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