The World Health Organization (WHO) says there were more than 3.4 million new global cases of the coronavirus last week, a 12 per cent increase from the previous week.
The UN health agency said that after a “steady decline for over two months” the number of weekly deaths reported was “similar to the previous week, with almost 57,000 deaths reported.
Health officials noted in the report that the highest increases in COVID-19 cases were in the western Pacific and European regions. In the past week, WHO says the highest coronavirus infections were in Indonesia, Britain, Brazil, India and the U.S.
“At this rate, it is expected that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks,” WHO said.
The report said the increased transmission of the virus is driven by new variants, the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols and the large number of people still susceptible to the coronavirus, despite rising vaccination rates in some countries.
The more transmissible delta variant, which was first reported in India, has now been identified in 124 countries, the weekly report said, an increase of 13 countries.
WHO has urged countries to commit to vaccinating at least 40 per cent of every country’s population by the end of the year.
Of the more than three billion vaccine doses administered globally, only about one per cent have gone to people in poorer nations.
COVID-19 in Tokyo
Tokyo 2020 organizers said on Thursday two athletes residing in the Olympic village tested positive for COVID-19. The organizers announced 11 new cases overall, including the two athletes, bringing the total to 86.
Outside the Olympic village, infections in the Japanese capital hit a six-month high on Wednesday, with the city logging 1,832 new cases.
Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency, which will last until Aug. 22. It covers the entire duration of the Olympics, which start Friday and end Aug. 8. Fans are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences at few outlying sites.
WATCH | Olympic restrictions at odds with life in Tokyo:
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday, more than 191.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.1 million.
In Europe, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who gathered Wednesday in Athens to oppose coronavirus vaccination requirements proposed by the Greek government. The demonstration in front of the parliament building took place hours after the government submitted legislation to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees at nursing homes and care facilities.
In Asia-Pacific, more than half of Australia is locked down because of growing COVID-19 clusters. Amid limited supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a surging delta variant, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he’s urging the government’s adviser on vaccines to loosen elibiglity for the the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot.
In the Americas, COVID-19 cases tripled in the U.S. over two weeks. Health officials blame the delta variant and flattening vaccination rates, the latter of which Dr. Anthony Fauci — director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — blamed on politics and misinformation.
In Africa, Tunisia’s president on Wednesday ordered the military to take over managing the national pandemic response, as the country fights one of the continent’s worst outbreaks. Authorities were unprepared for the decision, which prompted confusion and chaos as crowds massed at vaccination centres.
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