WHO warns of global rise in COVID cases and deaths as world nears ‘highest infection rate’

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LONDON – The pandemic is reaching deadly new heights across the world, WHO warned this week, even as attention in some countries, including the United States, shifted to how quickly restrictions are relaxed as vaccination numbers increase.
“All over the world, cases and deaths continue to increase at an alarming rate,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on Friday. “Globally, the number of new cases per week has almost doubled in the past two months. This rate comes close to the highest infection rate we have experienced so far during the pandemic. Some countries that previously avoided widespread transmission are now experiencing large increases. in infections. “

Some experts have warned that social distancing recommendations have been ignored in India, and this week the government made a desperate appeal for citizens to wear masks.

“If we, all of us, start wearing masks from today or tomorrow, we will see an immediate plunge,” Vinod Kumar Paul, a member of the government’s planning committee, said at an update. release on April 13. “We should We need to maintain social distancing and hygiene, then this virus will stop for good. And we have said over and over again that wearing a mask is an effective social vaccine, which we should start today. “

Of the 1,185 daily deaths reported in India, in the 24 hours leading up to Friday, about a third were in the state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, which was placed under lockdown this week.

Even so, the sacred Kumbh Mela festival has seen millions of Indians travel across the country, with images showing worshipers bathing in the Ganges with no respect for social distancing, and hundreds of positive cases have been linked to the festival, according to the BBC. . In recent weeks, the country has reported more than 100,000 new confirmed cases every day.

As the country struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, vaccine exports have been suspended at the country’s Serum Institute, which produces the bulk of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses distributed by the COVAX program. India has vaccinated more than 100 million citizens so far, according to the country’s health ministry.

And in Europe, where most countries have adopted lockdowns to deal with rising infection rates, WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge has announced that more than one million deaths from COVID- 19 had been exceeded in the European Region.

“The situation in our region is serious – 1.6 million new cases are reported every week,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “That’s 9,500 people every hour, 160 people every minute. It is only among the oldest that we see a drop in incidence. “

On Monday, parts of the UK tentatively emerged from a multi-month lockdown, with alfresco dining in bars and restaurants, as well as shops, open to customers. Today the country is reporting one of the lowest proportional numbers of cases and deaths in Europe, what Prime Minister Boris Johnson was keen to point out was the lockdown job – not vaccination.

“But it is very, very important that everyone understands that the reduction in these numbers – of hospitalizations, deaths and infections – has not been achieved by the immunization program,” he said. this week. “People don’t appreciate, I think, that it was the lockdown that was extremely important in making this improvement. “

Even countries that were initially praised for handling the pandemic, such as Germany, are now struggling, according to Reuters. German doctors have called for action to deal with the worsening situation in hospitals, with Angela Merkel gaining new powers to impose local lockdowns if cases exceed a certain threshold.

And while Britain loosens its lockdown laws, France entered a nationwide lockdown earlier this month. The country has become the third country in Western Europe – after the UK and Italy – to record more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

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