By Asmau Ahmad
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of new COVID-19 infections in the last week jumped by about 55 per cent, although the number of deaths remained stable.
The WHO disclosed this in its latest pandemic report.
According to the weekly report released on Tuesday, the global health agency disclosed that there were about 15 million new COVID-19 cases last week, adding that there were also more than 43,000 deaths.
WHO said every world region reported an increase in COVID-19 cases except for Africa, where officials saw an 11 per cent drop.
The WHO as reported by AP noted a pandemic record high of 9.5 million new infections in a single week, calling it a “tsunami” of disease.
The global health agency blamed the increase in new cases on the contagious omicron variant, noting that the strain is becoming the dominant variant of COVID-19.
WHO said the variant that was first detected in southern Africa in late November, accounts for nearly 59 per cent of all sequences shared with the largest publicly available global database of viruses, adding that omicron had now proven to have a shorter doubling time, with increasing evidence it was able to “evade immunity.”
It, however, noted that numerous studies confirm that Omicron is less severe compared to previous variants.
After a steep rise in omicron cases in South Africa after the variant was first detected, the epidemic quickly dropped and experts believe the wave has now passed. WHO said this week that after a continuous rise of COVID-19 across Africa, cases fell this week for the first time.
WHO noted that the Americas reported the highest-ever number of COVID-19 cases this week, with a 78 per cent spike, mainly driven by the United States.
The number of new cases in Europe rose by 31 per cent, while there was a 10 per cent drop in deaths.
The biggest jump in COVID-19 infections was noted in Southeast Asia, where cases increased by more than 400 per cent, with the largest numbers reported in India, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Bangladesh. The number of deaths in the region fell by 6 per cent.