The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that about 21 million new COVID-19 cases were reported globally within the last week, marking the highest number of cases in a week since the start of the pandemic.
WHO also noted that deaths related to COVID-19 remained stable, with more than 50,000 reported, according to The Associated Press.
WHO’s weekly pandemic assessment showed that new coronavirus infections increased by 5 percent — a rate that seems to be slowing. Only half of the regions included in the assessment reported an increase in infections, the AP noted.
The largest increase in cases was seen in the Middle East, where a 39 percent rise was reported. Southeast Asia was right behind, with a 36 percent increase. Deaths in Southeast Asia, the Americas and the Middle East increased, while other regions saw a drop in deaths, the WHO report stated.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned against saying that the coronavirus pandemic could be entering the “endgame,” the AP reported. He noted that large populations of unvaccinated people in some countries and rapid transmission still create conditions that could foster the emergence of new variants.
Researchers at Imperial College London earlier this month recorded the highest-ever rate of COVID-19 in England, with estimates that nearly one in every 23 people tested positive for the virus, the AP noted.
Scientists said that the massive spike caused by omicron started to level off, but that infection rates remained high. According to health experts, omicron is reportedly less likely to cause serious disease and hospitalization but spreads more quickly than previous COVID-19 variants, the news service reported.