WHO reported more than 4.5 million new cases and 68,000 new deaths worldwide last week – only a slight increase from the more than 4.4 million cases and 66,000 deaths reported the week before.
The cumulative number of cases worldwide now stands at more than 211 million, with a total death toll exceeding 4.4 million, according to the WHO’s weekly epidemiological update.
The number of new cases worldwide now appears to be stable, having increased since mid-June, the WHO noted in the report.
According to the WHO, the world previously recorded a leveling-off in global cases in May, but outbreaks in part caused by the highly transmissible variant Delta have increased cases in many countries in the past two months.
The Western Pacific and the Americas saw the largest increase in cases last week – at 20% and 8% respectively. Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean have reported a drop in infections, while other regions have recorded stagnant cases, according to the WHO.
The increase in cases in the Western Pacific region was in part due to the widening Delta epidemic in Australia. Over the past week, the number of single-day cases in the country has repeatedly hit new highs, surpassing its previous high in August last year.
Infections are also on the rise in New Zealand, although the country imposed a nationwide lockdown after confirming a single case of the locally transmitted coronavirus last week. On Wednesday, it reported 62 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the ongoing outbreak to 210.
In recent days, Australian and New Zealand officials have suggested a change in approach in the management of Covid-19, from an attempt to eradicate the virus to finally learning to live with it.
In an opinion piece published in Australian media on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison alluded to the end of the country’s zero Covid-19 restrictions, saying the lockdowns “are sadly needed for now” but “don’t. will not be too long ”. He said the Australian government intends to move from reducing the number of cases to examining the number of people seriously ill due to Covid-19 and requiring hospitalization.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told public broadcaster TVNZ on Monday that the Delta variant has raised questions about the long-term viability of the country’s coronavirus elimination strategy.
“This means that all of our existing protections are starting to look less adequate and less robust. As a result, we’re taking a very close look at what more we can do there. But this raises very big questions about the long lifespan. the long-term future of our plans, ”he said.
In its weekly report, the WHO noted that the emergence of worrisome variants of Covid-19, including the highly transmissible Delta variant, highlighted the need to increase vaccination, as well as the importance of maintaining public health and social measures.
He cited a modeling study in England which shows that a delay in lifting these safety measures reduced the peak of daily hospitalizations by almost three times.
“The relaxation of public health and social measures must therefore be carefully and cautiously balanced against the levels of vaccine coverage and the circulation of the variants of concern,” the WHO wrote.