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Global COVID deaths soar 20 percent in a week as cases surge in Middle East, Europe

Average daily infections climb to 3.3 million worldwide, but pace of increase is slowing; US sees 2,600 fatalities per day

A medical worker prepares to enter the respiratory diseases unit of the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, January 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A medical worker prepares to enter the respiratory diseases unit of the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, January 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

The number of deaths from COVID-19 soared by a fifth worldwide in the last week, as the number of daily cases surged in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

The average number of global daily cases leapt to 3.36 million this week, an increase of eight percent over the previous seven days. The pace of the increase nevertheless slowed, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.

The confirmed cases only reflect a fraction of the actual number of infections, with varying counting practices and levels of testing in different countries.

The week’s main surge took place in the Middle East, where the number of daily cases rocketed by 70%. They also leapt by 20% in Europe, by 19% in Asia and by eight percent in the Latin America-Caribbean zone.

The situation improved, however, in the United States and Canada, where the number of cases decreased by 22%. And they fell by 13% in Africa, where the highly contagious Omicron variant has begun its rise.

The number of cases also decreased by a quarter in Oceania.

The number of COVID-linked deaths soared globally for a third week in a row, by 20% to 9,050 per day.

The US saw the most daily deaths with 2,604 per day, ahead of Russia with 673 and India 572.

The countries reporting the highest death rates in proportion to their population were Bosnia-Herzegovina with 8.9 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Croatia with 7.9, Bulgaria and Trinidad and Tobago with 7.3 each and Montenegro 7.2.

The Solomon Islands in the Pacific saw the biggest increase in new infections, with cases shooting up by 1,172% on an average of 100 cases a day, after its some 700,000 inhabitants were largely spared in the first two years of the pandemic.

It was followed by Armenia’s 253% increase and a 172% rise in Kosovo. Iran’s cases were up 162%.

Ireland saw the biggest drop in new cases for a second week in a row, with a 45% decline.

The US remained by far the country with the biggest number of new cases with 591,300 per day on average, a drop of 21% from the previous week.

Next in line came France with 360,300 average daily cases and India with 307,500.

On a per capita basis, the country with the biggest number of new cases over the week remained Denmark with 5,461 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Slovenia with 4,182, Portugal with 3,765 and France with 3,736.

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