WHO Reports 90% Drop in World COVID-19 Deaths Since February

By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) – The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that a nearly 90% drop in recent COVID-19 deaths worldwide compared to nine months ago provides “reason for ‘optimism’, but still called for vigilance against the pandemic as variants continue to emerge.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said just over 9,400 coronavirus-related deaths were reported to the WHO last week. By February this year, he said, weekly deaths had topped 75,000 worldwide.

“We have come a long way, and that is certainly cause for optimism. But we continue to call on all governments, communities and individuals to remain vigilant,” he told a conference in virtual press from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“Nearly 10,000 deaths per week is 10,000 too many for a disease that can be prevented and treated.”

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The WHO chief said testing and sequencing rates remain low globally, vaccination gaps between rich and poor countries are still large, and new variants continue to proliferate.

The United Nations health agency said the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide stood at more than 2.1 million for the week ending Sunday, down 15% from the previous previous week. The number of weekly deaths fell 10% from a week earlier.

In total, the WHO has reported 629 million cases and 6.5 million deaths related to the pandemic.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, cited a “substantial underestimation” of the true circulation of the virus because surveillance and testing has declined with falling case numbers. She said the coronavirus outbreak is “still a pandemic, and it’s still circulating quite frantically around the world” – and the focus was now on hospitalizations and deaths.

The highest number of new cases reported during the week occurred in Japan, with more than 401,000, a 42% increase from the previous week. This is followed by Korea, the United States, Germany and China, which recorded more than 219,000 new cases during the week, down 15% from the previous week.

China still recorded 539 COVID-19-related deaths during the week, a 10% increase from the previous week.

While its numbers have remained relatively low, China has relentlessly pursued a strict “zero-COVID” policy of mandatory daily or near-daily quarantines, lockdowns and testing that has at times fueled protests and clashes between residents and residents. authorities.

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