Global Covid cases and deaths rise for the first time in two months, WHO says

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a ceremony to launch a multi-year partnership with Qatar to make the 2022 FIFA World Cup and mega sporting events healthy and safe at WHO headquarters in Geneva on October 18, 2021.

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Cases and deaths from the COVID-19 virus are rising worldwide for the first time in two months, as the virus spreads across Europe, World Health Organization officials said in a Thursday briefing.

After weeks of declining, infections in Europe have risen over the past three consecutive weeks, even as cases have fallen in every other region around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Nearly 3 million new Covid cases were reported worldwide for the week ending Sunday, an increase of 4% over the previous seven days, according to the World Health Organization’s latest epidemiological update.

Globally, Covid cases fell by 4% in the previous week, despite an increase of 7% across Europe over the same period. World Health Organization data shows cases in Europe rose by 18% over the past week alone.

“The global number of reported cases and deaths from Covid-19 is now increasing for the first time in two months, driven by the continued rise in Europe outpacing declines in other regions,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s another reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet.”

Covid has risen sharply in the Czech Republic and Hungary, where the seven-day average of cases has ballooned more than 100% from the previous week through Wednesday, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. JHU found that Croatia, Denmark, Norway and Poland all posted average weekly increases in cases of more than 70% on Wednesday.

Russia reported a record seven-day average of more than 35,800 new cases on Tuesday, up 10% from the previous week, as measured by JHU. Ukraine’s seven-day average of more than 21,900 new cases of infection – a 43% increase from the previous week – also represents an uptick in the epidemic.

Both countries also recorded a record number of deaths during that period, JHU reckons.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for Covid, said the evolving delta variant and the approach of winter could also lead to outbreaks. Van Kerkhove said the organization is tracking more than 30 delta sublines, including the AY.4.2 variant, or Delta Plus, a mutation that is gaining ground in the UK and could be more contagious than the original variant.

“As we enter the winter months where people tend to spend more time indoors, in very close proximity, perhaps in rooms where there is no good ventilation, cases will increase,” Van Kerkhove said.

Delta plus has been detected in 42 countries, but 93% of sequenced cases with the subvariate are in the United Kingdom, according to WHO data. Delta plus features two new adaptations of Spike Protein, A222V and Y145H, which enable the virus to enter the body.

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