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Thursday, December 01, 2022

WHO: Decline in COVID cases and deaths for third consecutive week

GENEVA ( Associated Press) – The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported to the World Health Organization declined for the third week in a row, a trend likely helped by ramping up testing and surveillance programs.

In its latest weekly report on the pandemic, released late Tuesday, the UN health agency said the more than 7 million new cases reported represented a 24% drop from a week earlier. The weekly number of COVID-19 deaths worldwide, down 18%, stood at more than 22,000.

The WHO said the reduction “should be interpreted with caution” because many countries where the virus is starting to subside have changed their testing strategies, meaning fewer cases are being identified .

New cases and deaths are falling in every region of the world, including the western Pacific, where the rise in infections has triggered severe lockdown measures in China.

The WHO said it was monitoring several mutants of the virus derived from the Omicron variant, including some recombinant forms of existing Omicron subvariants.

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In a separate statement, the health organization said that scientists in Botswana and South Africa have detected new forms of the Omicron variant labeled as BA.4 and BA.5, but are not yet sure if they are more can be permeable or dangerous.

To date, new versions of Omicron have been detected in four people in Botswana and 23 in South Africa. Beyond Africa, scientists have confirmed cases in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The WHO said that there is no evidence yet that the new sub-variants spread differently than the original omicron variant.

“With the emergence of new sub-types there is no cause for alarm,” WHO Africa director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement. “We are not yet seeing a major increase in cases, hospitalizations or deaths.”

The agency called on all countries to sequence at least 5% of their COVID-19 samples; Several countries, including Britain, Sweden and the United States, recently canceled their extensive testing programs as the number of serious cases has dropped dramatically.

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Still, the US will soon mark 1 million COVID-19 deaths, and the virus continues to be a cause for concern in China.

Authorities have warned that Shanghai still does not have its latest increase in control of cases linked to Omicron, despite a “zero-tolerance” approach that has confined some residents to their homes for three weeks or more.

The lockdown has caused frustration among residents of Shanghai about the lack of food and non-delivery. The censors have diligently scrutinized the complaints received from social media.

The state-controlled outlet describes a successful campaign to provide food and other supplies and advises residents that “persistence wins.”

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Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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