COVID cases rise in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe

LONDON (AP) — The number of new coronavirus cases rose last week in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, while the number of deaths worldwide fell by 16%, according to the latest World Health Organization’s weekly report on the pandemic released on Wednesday.

The WHO said there were 3.3 million new COVID-19 infections last week, marking a 4% drop, with more than 7,500 deaths. But cases jumped about 45% in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and about 6% in Europe. Southeast Asia was the only region to report a slight 4% increase in deaths, while numbers fell elsewhere. Globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases has declined after peaking in January.

Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and vice-chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said the recent drop in COVID-19 numbers had reached “trough” levels and hadn’t been seen much in the world. over the past two and a half years. . He warned, however, that some countries, including Britain, were starting to see a slight resurgence in cases.

British health officials said last week there were early signs the country could be at the start of a new wave of infections caused by variants of omicron, although hospitalization rates have so far remained “very low”.

The country dropped almost all of its COVID restrictions months ago. The UK last week saw a 43 per cent rise in cases following street parties, concerts and other festivities celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this month, which marked her 70th birthday. as monarch.

Meanwhile, in the United States, authorities began rolling out vaccines for the little ones late last week, with vaccines for children aged six months to five years.

Advisors from the United States Centers for Disease Prevention and Control on Saturday cleared vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, saying they help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths in young children.

While young children typically don’t get as sick from COVID-19 as older children and adults, their hospitalizations increased during the omicron wave and US experts determined that the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks. minimal.

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