The World Health Organization said there were about four million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.
In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.
Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a seven per cent increase in deaths in Africa. According to the weekly report from WHO, the highest numbers of cases were seen in:
- The United States, with 1,034,836 new cases — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent from a week earlier.
- The United Kingdom, with 256,051 new cases — a five per cent increase.
- India, with 248 248 new cases — a 15 per cent decrease.
- Iran, with 172 030 new cases — a 17 per cent decrease.
- Turkey, with 158 236 new cases — a six per cent increase.
Cases in the U.S., driven by the delta variant and resistance among some Americans to get vaccinated, are concentrated mostly in the South. While hot spots such as Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fuelled by children back in school, loose mask requirements and low vaccination rates.
According to the weekly update, the delta variant had been identified in 180 countries as of Tuesday.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 225.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, China is imposing lockdowns and ordering mass testing in cities along its east coast amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.
The National Health Commission on Wednesday said an additional 50 cases had been diagnosed, most of them in the Putian region. Since the start of the pandemic, first detected in Wuhan, China has imposed strict testing, lockdowns and quarantines. A suspected case in eastern Beijing prompted officials to bar residents of a high-rise community from leaving their apartments.
In the Americas, Mexico will send vaccines to Nicaragua in September, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, in a rare sign of international engagement with the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
In Africa, after uncertainty about whether the coronavirus pandemic would force South Africa to postpone local government elections, the courts have ruled the vote should move ahead. South Africa’s courts ruled this month the Independent Electoral Commission should hold the polls on Nov. 1, despite concerns about political rallies spreading the disease.
South Africa has recorded 2,640 new infections and 125 deaths in the last 24 hours. The nation accounts for more than 35 per cent of coronavirus infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and 85,002 confirmed deaths.
In Europe, the Dutch government is easing restrictions and will introduce a “corona” pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.
Meanwhile, health-care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.
In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 22,329 new cases of COVID-19 and 408 additional deaths.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET