WHO warns of Covid-19 spike in Middle East, North Africa

Cairo, Apr 27 (EFE).- The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern Tuesday about a surge in coronavirus cases in the Middle East and North Africa over the past week, coinciding with a record increase in infections worldwide.

Twelve of the 28 countries in the area, as it is defined by the WHO, have reported a nearly 22 percent increase in cases from the previous week, while 11 have seen deaths go up by 17 percent, Ahmed al-Mandhari, the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said during a virtual press briefing to mark World Immunization Week.

Those increases coincided with a record one-week surge of 5 million in new infections worldwide, he said.

The upward trend in cases across the region that stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan began at the start of this year.

“From 17 March to 9 April 2021, a 24-day period, we reported as many cases as we did in the first six months of 2020,” Al-Mandhari said.

The increase came as both people and government started to let their guard down after the vaccination rollouts got underway in December, he said.

“There was a notable decline in the trend for – maybe – four weeks, particularly in the countries that introduced the vaccines. However, we became too complacent and we started to believe we had overcome the pandemic,” he said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the region has reported more than 8.8 million cases and nearly 178,000 deaths. EFE Globally, the number of cases is approaching 149 million and the death toll stands at 3.14 million.


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