Covid-19 slowed last week but records still falling in Europe

(Update: adds info from Germany, Austria, UK)

Geneva, Jan 19 (EFE).- The upward curve in global Covid-19 cases, driven by the contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, showed signs of slowing in the week ending January 16, according to data from the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

Despite the emerging trend, several countries on Wednesday registered record breaking numbers of cases.

Health authorities registered 18.7 million cases worldwide between January 10-16, which reflected a 20% increase from the previous week.

However, the first and second weeks of the year saw a 70% and 55% rise in cases respectively.

The WHO’s epidemiological report logged 45,000 Covid-related deaths in the previous week, a 4% rise from the seven days prior, but the global mortality rate has remained relatively stable since October.

Africa was the only region to record a drop in cases last week with 190,000, a decrease of 27%. Europe reported a 10% rise with 8.2 million cases, the Americas a 17% jump with 7.1 million and East Asia a 38% uptick with 1 million new infections.

The biggest rise in cases was detected in South and Southeast Asia, where new infections rose by 1.7 million, a 145% surge compared to the previous seven days. It is one of the last regions to be affected by the arrival of the Omicron variant, which in the second week of the year drove cases up by 418%.

Similarly, the Middle East saw cases shoot up by 68% week-on-week with 345,000 documented infections.

Nonetheless, the infection curve in almost all reasons showed signs of slowing, although none have yet hit a peak in cases.

Several countries, including Austria, Germany and Israel, on Wednesday reported record breaking numbers of infections.

Germany exceeded 100,000 infections per day for the first time since the pandemic began.

Health authorities reported 112,323 new infections in the past 24 hours, up from 80,430 a week ago, while the number of active cases is at around 972,400.

The cumulative incidence rose to 584.4 new cases per 100,000 population in seven days, up from 407.5 a week ago and 315.4 a month ago,

Neighboring Austria recorded 30,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, up 80% from the previous day, a new daily high since the pandemic began.

The new record is a “frighteningly high” figure that shows that “the pandemic is not over,” Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Wednesday.

Meanwhile in the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that most of the current Covid-19 restrictions in England, such as the use of masks, mandatory Covid passes and remote working, will expire as of January 27.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the Conservative leader cited the latest scientific data, which reveal “a drop in infection levels” and indicate that “the Omicron variant has already reached its peak at the national level”.

Johnson also said he hopes to lift regulations requiring people to self-isolate when they test positive for Covid when they expire in March. EFE


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