COVID-19 Cases Rise for 5th Week, Deaths Stable, WHO Says

GENEVA — The number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide rose for the fifth week in a row while the number of deaths remained relatively stable, the World Health Organization reported Thursday.

In the U.N. health agency’s weekly review of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO said there were 5.7 million new infections confirmed last week, marking a 6% increase. There were 9.800 deaths, roughly similar to the previous week’s figure.

Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic still qualifies as a global emergency and he was “concerned” about the recent spike.

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The virus is running freely, and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden,” he said during a Tuesday press briefing. “New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID-19 is nowhere near over.”

The number of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO has risen by 30% in the past two weeks. This was largely due to the highly infectious omicron cousins, BA.4 & BA.5. These two subvariants are capable of infecting people who were previously vaccinated and have already recovered from COVID.

WHO reports that COVID-19 rates rose by 25% in the Middle East and Western Pacific. While deaths rose by 78% in Southeast Asia and 23% in the Middle East respectively, they remained steady or declined in other parts of the world.

WHO claimed that COVID-19-restricted surveillance and testing programs in many countries make it more difficult for the virus to be tracked and caught.

U.S. new omicron variations have led to an increase in deaths and hospitalizations over the past weeks. This has prompted some cities and states across the country to change their ways of doing business. White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha made a Wednesday television appearance and called for more booster shots. He also highlighted the need to be vigilant against this virus.

The White House response team has also urged all adults 50 and older to urgently get a booster if they haven’t yet this year — and dissuaded people from waiting for the next generation of shots expected in the fall.

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