Global Covid-19 Cases Rise Is ‘Tip Of The Iceberg,’ WHO Warns


Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded the alarm over a global spike in Covid-19 cases, despite reduced testing and several weeks of declining infections.

Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO said.

After more than a month of decline, COVID-19 cases started to increase around the world last week, WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China’s Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak.

A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 subvariant, as well as the lifting of public health and social measures, according to WHO.

“These increase are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we’re seeing are just the tip of the iceberg,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

Low vaccination rates in some countries, driven partly by a “huge amount of misinformation” also explained the rise, WHO officials said.

New infections jumped by eight per cent globally compared to the previous week, with 11 million new cases and just over 43,000 new deaths reported from March 7-13. It is the first rise since the end of January.

The biggest jump was in WHO’s Western Pacific region, which includes South Korea and China, where cases rose by 25 per cent and deaths by 27 per cent.

Africa also saw a 12 per cent rise in new cases and 14 per cent rise in deaths, and in Europe, there was a two per cent rise in cases but no jump in deaths.

Other regions reported declining cases, including the eastern Mediterranean region, although this area saw a 38 per cent rise in deaths linked to a previous spike in infections.

A number of experts have raised concerns that Europe is facing another coronavirus wave, with cases rising since the beginning of March in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The picture in Europe is also not universal. Denmark, for example, saw a brief peak in cases in the first half of February, driven by BA.2, which quickly subsided.



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