Gulf Today

3.4m global cases in a week; pace of jabs crucial to economic recovery

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GENEVA: The World Health Organizati­on says there were more than 3.4 million new global cases of the coronaviru­s last week, a 12% increase from the previous week.

The UN health agency says the number of deaths is continuing to decline, with about 57,000 in the last week.

“At this rate, it is expected that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks,” WHO says. It notes the highest increases in COVID-19 cases were in the Western Pacific and European regions. In the past week, WHO says the highest coronaviru­s infections were in Indonesia, Britain, Brazil, India and the US.

It says the increased transmissi­on of the virus is driven by new variants, the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols and the large number of people still susceptibl­e to the coronaviru­s, despite rising vaccinatio­n rates in some countries.

WHO has urged countries to commit to vaccinatin­g at least 40% of every country’s population by the end of the year. Of the more than 3 billion vaccine doses administer­ed globally, only about 1% have gone to people in poorer nations.

In the UAE, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) announced that it conducted 242,524 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment.

In a statement, the Ministry stressed its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronaviru­s cases and carry out the necessary treatment. As part of its intensifie­d testing campaign, MOHAP announced 1,506 new coronaviru­s cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 665,533.

According to the Ministry, the infected individual­s are from various nationalit­ies, are in a stable condition, and receiving the necessary care.

MOHAP also announced 3 deaths due to COVID-19 complicati­ons, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 1,907.

The Ministry expressed its sincere condolence­s to the families of the deceased and wished COVID-19 patients a speedy and full recovery. It called on all members of the society to cooperate with health authoritie­s, adhere to the instructio­ns and physical distance to ensure the health and safety of all.

MOHAP also noted that an additional 1,484 individual­s had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 643,234.

Meanwhile, the Internatio­nal Monetary

Fund is estimating this month that global growth for 2021 will be about 6%, the same as forecast in April, but with some countries growing faster and others more slowly, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.

Georgieva, speaking at an online event sponsored by the Peterson Institute for Internatio­nal Economics, said that economic recovery will be held back unless the pace of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n picks up, adding that a goal of ending the pandemic by the end of 2022 will not be reached at the current pace. The IMF projected in April that 2021 global growth would hit 6%, a rate unseen since the 1970s, as vaccine availabili­ty improves and economies reopen with the help of unpreceden­ted fiscal stimulus, particular­ly in the United States.

But Georgieva said the relative lack of vaccine access in developing countries and the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant was threatenin­g to slow the recovery’s momentum.

In Tunisia, the president ordered the military Wednesday to take over managing the national COVID-19 pandemic response, as the country fights one of Africa’s worst outbreaks.

The military health service will be assigned the task, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced on regional TV network Al Arabiya.

Soldiers and military medics are already carrying out vaccinatio­ns in remote parts of Tunisia. On Tuesday, military trucks transporte­d oxygen to regions in the center and northwest of the country where hospitals are suffering shortages.

India recorded more than 45,000 cases of the deadly “black fungus” over the last two months, the health ministry said, as a nationwide outbreak sweeps through Covid-19 patients.

The country’s junior health minister Bharati Pravin Pawar told parliament on Tuesday that over 4,200 people had died of the fungus -- scientific name mucormycos­is.

The infection was previously considered very rare but cases have ballooned during the pandemic, usually striking patients ater recovery from Covid-19.

It is a highly aggressive disease and surgeons have been forced to remove eyes, the nose and jaw from patients to stop it spreading to the brain.

French cinemas, museums and sports venues began asking visitors Wednesday to furnish proof of Covid-19 vaccinatio­n or a negative test as the country, which is in the throes of a fourth wave of infections, rolled out a controvers­ial vaccine passport system.

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