Global COVID cases rising again

After 5 weeks of declining instances, international COVID-19 instances rose final week, fueled by rising instances in three areas, the World Well being Group (WHO) stated yesterday in its newest weekly replace.

In america, ranges of the extra transmissible BA.2 subvariant confirmed extra indicators of rising, because the nation grapples with funding the continuing pandemic response.

Instances rise in Asia, Africa, and Europe

Final week, instances rose 8% in comparison with the week earlier than, led by will increase within the Western Pacific area that embody Asia’s present scorching spots, Africa, and Europe. Nevertheless, deaths continued to say no, falling 17% in comparison with the earlier week.

Of greater than 11 million instances reported globally final week, the 5 international locations with probably the most instances included South Korea, Vietnam, Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

At a WHO media briefing at present, Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, stated the brand new rises are occurring regardless of diminished testing in some international locations, “which suggests the instances we’re seeing are simply the tip of the iceberg.”

He stated extra native outbreaks and surges are anticipated, particularly the place COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Nevertheless, he raised considerations about unacceptably excessive mortality ranges in lots of international locations the place vaccination ranges are low in inclined populations.

“Every nation is going through a distinct state of affairs with completely different challenges, however the pandemic shouldn’t be over,” Tedros stated.

Roughly half of final week’s instances had been from the Western Pacific area, the place surges are underway in scorching spots akin to Hong Kong, South Korea, and Vietnam. Hong Kong at present reported practically 29,272 new instances and 217 deaths, and well being officers are on the lookout for extra well being employees to staff temporary treatment centers. China reported 3,045 new instances at present, 1,860 of them asymptomatic, with greater than half of the instances from hard-hit Jilin province, which is below lockdown and the place authorities are calling for mass testing and adding treatment and quarantine centers. In the meantime, South Korea at present reported a new record day by day excessive of greater than 400,000 instances.

Africa’s weekly instances—up 8%—rose for the primary time since January, with the most important rises in Mauritius, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Europe’s instances had been up final week to a lesser diploma, with a rise of two%, with instances rising 20% or extra in 12 international locations and the sharpest rises occurring in Monaco, Malta, and the Netherlands. Germany’s 7-day common of recent day by day instances reached one other report excessive, whereas France’s well being minister stated the nation’s newest spike might peak by the tip of March.

US BA.2 ranges present extra indicators of rise

In america, the 7-day common for day by day new instances continues to slowly decline and at present was at 31,997, in keeping with the Washington Post tracker. However public well being officers are bracing for a attainable resurgence in america, which regularly follows rises in Europe.

One among a lot of elements suspected in present rises abroad, alongside eased restrictions and waning immunity, is elevated unfold of BA.2—Omicron’s extra transmissible subvariant. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) estimates that BA.2 made up 23.1% of the nation’s circulating variants throughout the week ending on Mar 12, up from 13.7% the earlier week.

Regardless of the looming menace of extra virus unfold, applications to battle COVID-19 seem more likely to be phased again as a consequence of uncertainty over funding. Final week Congress declined so as to add $22 billion to the federal government funding invoice, and the White Home stated yesterday it can begin to wind down a program that helps testing, treating, and vaccinating uninsured individuals, in keeping with NPR. The Biden Administration has additionally signaled that it might cancel plans to purchase extra monoclonal antibodies.

In different US developments:

  • The Senate yesterday voted to end the federal masking requirement for passengers on planes and different public transportation, however the measure is not sure to move within the Home of Representatives, and President Biden has stated he would veto it.
  • The White Home announced yesterday that Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, has examined constructive for COVID-19. Harris has examined destructive, however has in the reduction of on her schedule.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech yesterday formally submitted an utility to the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use of a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 65 and older, primarily based on knowledge that recommend waning safety after the preliminary booster dose.

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