The World Health Organization reported that the global number of new coronavirus cases and deaths continued to fall in the past week, with an estimated 3.3 million new infections and about 55,000 deaths, marking a 10 per cent drop in both from a week earlier.
In its regular assessment of the pandemic issued on Tuesday, the UN health agency said the biggest drops in new cases were seen in:
- The Eastern Mediterranean region, which saw a 17 per cent drop in new cases.
- The Western Pacific region, with a 15 per cent drop.
- The Americas region, with a 14 per cent drop.
The WHO noted that despite a “declining trend in new weekly cases and deaths” in the Americas, the “overall epidemiological situation has not improved significantly since a surge in mid-July 2021.”
The global health agency said all regions reported more than a 15 per cent decline in deaths, except for Europe, where the number of deaths was similar to the previous week and Africa, where there was about a five per cent rise. In the Western Pacific region, the number of deaths dropped by nearly a quarter.
WHO first reported a substantial decrease in cases in mid-September at four million new cases, with declines seen in all areas of the world — the first time in more than two months that COVID-19 cases had fallen.
Winter in the northern hemisphere, however, could bring increasing case numbers as more activities move indoors.
WHO, which has been working to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, has repeatedly decried global inequity in vaccine distribution and urged wealthier nations to do more to help countries with less access.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is urging long-term care homes to give boosters to residents immediately, as the delta variant breaks out in facilities across the country.
The new guidance was released Tuesday after the committee reviewed evidence about waning immunity from the vaccines, the latest safety data and the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
The committee recommends long-term care residents and people living in seniors’ homes receive another shot of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine — like Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna — as long as it has been six months since their last shot. A booster dose of a viral vector vaccine like Oxford-AstraZeneca is only recommended when Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are unavailable or the person can’t have an mRNA vaccine for medical reasons.
-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:25 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 232.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In Africa, Algeria will start production of Sinovac’s vaccine in partnership with China on Wednesday with the aim of meeting domestic demand and exporting the surplus.
In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says his priority is keeping the nation’s economy open and increasing vaccinations among the country’s Arab minority as Israel copes with a wave of coronavirus infections.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’ll appoint a chair this year to the planned public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and bereaved families will have a role in the proceedings.
The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which has around 4,000 members, has been calling for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic so lessons can be learned to limit future virus-related deaths. It has criticized Johnson and his Conservative government for a lack of protective gear for health workers, delaying lockdowns and a too-lax travel policy.
Johnson confirmed in May a public inquiry will start to hear evidence next year. However, the group says, “we see no reason why preparations for the inquiry cannot begin now, particularly as nearly 1,000 people are still losing their lives each week.”
The U.K. registered 167 virus-related deaths on Tuesday. Britain has Europe’s second-highest pandemic death toll after Russia, with more than 136,500 reported deaths.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s federal government will wind down emergency funding for people who lost work during COVID-19 shutdowns as vaccination rates increase across the country.
In the Americas, at least 400,000 people in the United States have received booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after U.S. health regulators cleared the third round of shots for millions of people, and a million more are seeking them, the White House said on Tuesday.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET