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At the global level, COVID-19 cases declined for the fourth week in a row, which the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said is encouraging, though not a guarantee that the trend will persist in the months ahead.
In its weekly update on the pandemic, the WHO said cases dropped by 12% last week compared to the week before. Cases fell in all six of the WHO’s regions.
At a WHO briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, warned that it’s dangerous to assume COVID cases will continue to fall. “You might be tired of hearing me say the pandemic is not over. But I will keep saying it until it is. This virus will not just fade away,” he said.
Tedros said the WHO understands that countries are juggling multiple challenges and competing priorities. To help countries reassess and recalibrate their policies, he announced that the WHO next week will publish a set of six short policy briefs that outline essential steps governments can take to reduce transmission and save lives. The categories include testing, clinical management, vaccination, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, and managing misinformation.
Of about 4.2 million cases reported last week, the five countries with the most cases were Japan, the United States, South Korea, Russia, and China.
Overall deaths also declined last week, falling 5% compared to the week before. However, three regions reported rises: Africa, the Americas, and the Western Pacific.
Tedros said deaths have dropped more than 80% since February, but even so, last week one person died from COVID-19 every 44 seconds. “Most of these deaths are avoidable.”
Over the past 2 weeks, the proportion of the Omicron BA.5 variant increased its dominance, from 84.8% to 86.8%, the WHO said. The numbers of Omicron BA.4 descendent lineages declined, including BA.4.6, which has been slowly rising in the United States. Meanwhile, the proportions of BA.2 lineages remained stable, though some countries are seeing increasing BA.2.75 trends.
In related global developments:
Though US COVID cases continue to fall, illnesses in children last week rose for the second week in a row, according to the latest update from the American Academy of Pediatrics. About 90,600 infections in kids were reported, up 14% from 2 weeks ago. Cases had plateaued since the middle of May, fluctuating between a low of 68,000 and 112,000 weekly cases.
In other developments
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