COVID-19 deaths fall overall by 9%, infections stable - WHO
A man pulls his mask to get his routine COVID-19 throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Tuesday, August 9, 2022. Chinese authorities have closed Tibet's famed Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in the Himalayan region. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

LONDON (AP) — The number of coronavirus deaths fell by nine per cent in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable, according to the latest weekly pandemic report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Wednesday.

The U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in the last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30 per cent jump in cases while Africa reported a 46 per cent drop. Cases also fell by more than 20 per cent in the Americas and the Middle East.

The number of new deaths rose by 19 per cent in the Middle East, while dropping by more than 70 per cent in Africa, 15 per cent in Europe and 10 per cent in the Americas.

The WHO said that the omicron subvariant BA 5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of all virus sequences shared with the world’s biggest publicly available virus database. The agency said other omicron sub-variants, including BA 4 and BA 2, appear to be decreasing in prevalence as BA 5 takes over.

The WHO cautioned that its assessment of COVID-19 trends remains compromised by countries dropping many of their testing, surveillance and sequencing efforts as most countries have relaxed pandemic controls.

Still, Chinese authorities have announced new restrictions this week, after finding COVID-19 cases in the tourist island of Hainan and in Tibet. Earlier this week, the Chinese government shut down Lhasa’s Potala Palace, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, and also locked down Haikou, the capital of Hainan, in addition to several other cities including the beach resort Sanya.

The WHO cautioned that its assessment of COVID-19 trends remains compromised by countries dropping many of their testing, surveillance and sequencing efforts as most countries have relaxed pandemic controls.

Still, Chinese authorities have announced new restrictions this week, after finding COVID-19 cases in the tourist island of Hainan and in Tibet. Earlier this week, the Chinese government shut down Lhasa’s Potala Palace, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, and also locked down Haikou, the capital of Hainan, in addition to several other cities including the beach resort Sanya.

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