Deaths from COVID-19 have dropped by 90% since February
The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the nearly 90% drop in recent global COVID-19 deaths compared to nine months ago gave “reason for optimism” but still urged vigilance against the pandemic as options continue to emerge.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 9,400 coronavirus-related deaths were reported to the WHO last week. In February of this year, he said, weekly deaths exceeded 75,000 worldwide.
“We’ve come a long way, and that’s definitely reason for optimism. But we continue to call on all governments, communities and individuals to remain vigilant,” he said at a virtual news conference from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
“Almost 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many for a preventable and treatable disease.”
The WHO chief said testing and sequencing rates remain low globally, vaccination gaps between rich and poor countries are still wide and new variants continue to spread.
The UN health agency said the number of new cases of COVID-19 worldwide reached more than 2.1 million in the week ending Sunday, down 15% from the previous week. The number of weekly deaths decreased by 10% compared to one week.
In total, WHO reported 629 million cases and 6.5 million deaths related to the epidemic.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, cited a “significant underestimation” of the true circulation of the virus, as surveillance and testing declined as the number of cases fell. He said the coronavirus outbreak is “still an epidemic and it’s still moving pretty relentlessly around the world” and the focus now is on hospitalizations and deaths.
Japan had the highest number of new cases for the week, with more than 401,000, a 42% increase from the previous week. It was followed by Korea, the United States, Germany and China, which reported more than 219,000 new cases in one week, a 15% drop from the previous week.
China still reported 539 deaths related to COVID-19 during the week, a 10% increase from the previous week.
While its numbers have remained relatively low, China has relentlessly pursued a strict “zero COVID” policy of quarantines, lockdowns and mandatory daily or near-daily testing, which has at times fueled protests and clashes between residents and authorities.
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