COVID deaths jump 40% in a week, but cases drop globally, says new World Health Organization report

The number of people killed by the coronavirus jumped more than 40% in the past week, likely due to changes in the way COVID-19 deaths were reported in the Americas and by recently adjusted numbers from India, according to a report by the World Health Organization released on Wednesday.

In its latest weekly pandemic report, the UN health agency said the number of new coronavirus cases had fallen everywhere, including in the WHO’s Western Pacific region, where they had been rising since December.

About 10 million new COVID-19 infections and more than 45,000 deaths have been reported globally in the past week, following a 23% drop in deaths the previous week.

The jump in reported deaths, from 33,000 last week, was mainly due to an accounting change; The WHO noted that countries like Chile and the United States have changed their definition of deaths from COVID-19.

Additionally, more than 4,000 deaths in India’s Maharashtra state that were not initially included in the COVID-19 death toll were added last week, according to the WHO.

The WHO has repeatedly stated that the number of COVID-19 cases is likely a vast underestimate of the prevalence of the coronavirus, and recent research suggests the death toll from COVID is about three times higher than the official WHO tally. The recent figures, published earlier this month in The Lancet, are based on the number of “excess deaths” in countries around the world. The researchers determined the number of additional deaths that occurred from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021 by modeling the number of “expected” deaths in years not affected by a global pandemic, compared to the total number of deaths, regardless of be the cause.

The agency has warned countries in recent weeks against abandoning their comprehensive testing and other surveillance measures, saying it would cripple efforts to accurately track the spread of the virus.

“The data are gradually becoming less representative, less timely and less robust,” the WHO said. “This inhibits our collective ability to track where the virus is, how it is spreading and how it is changing: information and analysis that remains critical to effectively ending the acute phase of the pandemic.”

The agency warned that less surveillance would particularly harm efforts to detect new variants of COVID and jeopardize a potential response.

Many countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere have recently lifted nearly all of their COVID-19 protocols, relying on high levels of vaccination to prevent another spike in infection, albeit the most infectious. Omicron BA.2 sub-variant causes an increase in new cases.

British authorities have said that although they expect to see more cases, they have not seen an equivalent increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

Despite the global decline in reported cases, China llocked up shanghai this week to try to curb an outbreak of Omicron that has caused the country’s biggest wave of illness since the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019.

US officials expanded the use of vaccine boosters on Tuesday, with regulators saying Americans ages 50 and older can get a second booster at least four months after their last vaccination.

An AP-NORC poll, meanwhile, found that less than half of Americans now regularly wear face masks, avoid crowds and avoid non-essential travel.

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