ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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WHO: COVID deaths down by 15%, cases fall nearly everywhere

A boy talks to his mother from a smartphone during the opening of classes at the San Juan Elementary School in metro Manila, Philippines on Monday, August 22, 2022. Millions of students wearing face masks streamed back to grade and high schools across the Philippines Monday in their first in-person classes after two years of coronavirus lockdowns that are feared to have worsened one of the world's most alarming illiteracy rates among children. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A boy talks to his mother from a smartphone during the opening of classes at the San Juan Elementary School in metro Manila, Philippines on Monday, August 22, 2022. Millions of students wearing face masks streamed back to grade and high schools across the Philippines Monday in their first in-person classes after two years of coronavirus lockdowns that are feared to have worsened one of the world's most alarming illiteracy rates among children. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The number of coronavirus deaths reported worldwide fell by 15% in the past week while new infections dropped by 9%, the World Health Organization says.

In its latest weekly assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN health agency says there were 5.3 million new cases and more than 14,000 deaths reported last week. WHO says the number of new infections declined in every world region except the Western Pacific.

Deaths jumped by more than 183% in Africa but fell by nearly a third in Europe and by 15% in the Americas. Still, WHO warns that COVID-19 numbers are likely severely underestimated, as many countries have dropped their testing and surveillance protocols to monitor the virus, meaning that there are far fewer cases being detected.

WHO says the predominant COVID-19 variant worldwide is Omicron subvariant BA.5, which accounts for more than 70% of virus sequences shared with the world’s biggest public viral database. Omicron variants account for 99% of all sequences reported in the last month.

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