The World Health Organization reported that the global number of new coronavirus cases and deaths continued to decline over the past week, with around 3.3 million new infections and around 55,000 deaths, marking a decline 10% of both compared to the previous week.
In its regular report on the pandemic published on Tuesday, the The United Nations health agency said the largest decreases in new cases were observed in:
- The Eastern Mediterranean region, which recorded a 17% drop in new cases.
- The Western Pacific region, with a decrease of 15%.
- The Americas region, with a decrease of 14%.
WHO noted that despite a “downward trend in new cases and weekly deaths” in the Americas, “the overall epidemiological situation has not improved significantly since an increase in mid-July 2021”.
The World Health Agency said all regions had reported a drop of more than 15% in deaths, with the exception of Europe, where the death toll was similar to the previous week and the ‘Africa, where there had been an increase of about 5%. In the Western Pacific region, the number of deaths has fallen by almost a quarter.
WHO first reported a substantial decrease in cases in mid-September to four million new cases, with declines seen in all regions of the world – the first time in more than two months that COVID cases -19 had decreased.
Winter in the northern hemisphere, however, could lead to an increase in the number of cases as more and more activity takes place inside.
The WHO, which works to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world, has repeatedly denounced global inequalities in vaccine distribution and urged richer countries to do more to help countries with less access.
-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated 7:20 a.m. ET
What is happening in Canada
The Canadian Medical Association is calling for closures in Alberta and Saskatchewan to protect health systems it says are collapsing under pressure from COVID-19.
Both provinces set hospitalization records and intensive care capacity is almost zero.
National Group Chair Dr. Katharine Smart urges the provincial and federal governments to take immediate action.
âIt is beyond anything the healthcare system has ever seen in modern times,â Smart said in an interview on Wednesday.
“What we are seeing now is essentially no capacity to deliver other acute care drugs beyond caring for people with COVID. So in essence the health care system has already collapsed.”
The association is calling for short, controlled shutdowns – often called firewalls or circuit breakers – that would shut down schools and non-essential businesses.
-From The Canadian Press, last updated 3:30 p.m. ET
What is happening in the world
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 233 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll worldwide was over 4.7 million.
In AfricaAlgeria will launch production of the Sinovac vaccine on Wednesday in partnership with China in order to meet domestic demand and export the surplus.
In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said his priority is to keep the country’s economy open and to increase vaccinations among the country’s Arab minority as Israel faces a wave of coronavirus infections.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he will appoint a chairman of the planned public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic this year and that bereaved families will have a role to play in the proceedings.
The COVID-19 bereaved families for justice, which has around 4,000 members, called for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic so that lessons can be learned to limit future deaths from the virus. He criticized Johnson and his Conservative government for the lack of protective gear for health workers, delayed blockages and an overly lax travel policy.
Johnson confirmed in May that a public inquiry would begin hearing evidence next year. However, according to the group, “we see no reason why preparations for the investigation cannot begin now, especially as nearly 1,000 people are still losing their lives every week.”
The United Kingdom recorded 167 deaths linked to the virus on Tuesday. Britain has the second highest death toll from a pandemic in Europe after Russia, with more than 136,500 reported deaths.
Meanwhile, in Russia, health officials have reported a record number of coronavirus deaths for the second day in a row, but officials say they are not planning to impose nationwide restrictions.
The Russian state coronavirus task force on Wednesday recorded 857 deaths, the country’s highest daily count of the pandemic. The previous record of 852 deaths from COVID-19 was reported on Tuesday.
In the Asia Pacific region, Singapore’s health ministry on Wednesday reported 2,268 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic. The country has also reported eight new deaths from the disease.
A recent spike in cases after some COVID-19 measures eased has prompted Singapore to suspend reopening. About 80% of its population has been vaccinated against the virus.
In the Americas, at least 400,000 people in the United States received booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after U.S. health regulators cleared the third round of vaccines for millions of people, and a million more are seeking them , the White House announced on Tuesday.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated 11:15 am ET