Figures showing a global rise in Covid-19 cases could pose a huge problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO warned on Tuesday, warning nations to remain vigilant against the virus.
After declining for more than a month, Covid cases began to rise around the world last week, the WHO said, as Asia and China’s Jilin province grapple with the outbreak of lockdown.
Read also| Kovid-19 cases increased in some parts of the world, warning for India
The WHO said a combination of factors was causing the increase, including the highly permeable Omicron variant and its Ba.2 subclass, and the lifting of public health and social measures.
“These increases are happening despite a reduction in testing in some countries, which means the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
WHO officials said low vaccination rates in some countries, partly driven by a “massive amount of misinformation”, also explained the rise.
New infections globally rose 8% compared to the previous week, with 11 million new cases and just over 43,000 new deaths from March 7-13. This is the first increase since the end of January.
Read also| What is the new covid version found in Israel? What do we know about its symptoms
The biggest jump was in the WHO’s Western Pacific region, which includes South Korea and China, where cases increased by 25% and deaths by 27%.
Africa also saw a 12% increase in new cases and 14% in deaths, and a 2% increase in cases in Europe, but no jump in deaths. Other regions reported a drop in cases, including the eastern Mediterranean, although the region saw a 38% increase in deaths linked to a previous spike in infections.
Many experts have raised concerns that Europe is facing another coronavirus wave, with cases rising since early March in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove said at the briefing that BA.2 appears to be the most permeable version to date.
However, there is no indication that it causes more severe disease, and there is no evidence that any other new types are increasing cases.
The picture is also not universal in Europe. Denmark, for example, saw a brief peak in cases in the first half of February, driven by BA.2, which quickly subsided.
But experts are beginning to warn that the United States may soon see a wave similar to that seen in Europe, potentially driven by BA.2, a ban from vaccines given several months ago and potentially weakened immunity. remove.
“I agree with the easing of restrictions, because you can’t think of it as an emergency after two years,” said Antonella Viola, professor of immunology at the University of Padua in Italy.
“We just have to avoid thinking that COVID is no more. And so maintain strictly necessary measures, which are essentially constant monitoring and tracking of cases, and the obligation to wear masks in closed or very crowded places. “