WHO: Europe the Only Region With Rise in COVID-19 Last Week

BRUSSELS (AP) -
A member of the medical personnel prepares to work with patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the intensive care unit at CHIREC Delta Hospital in Brussels, Belgium. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

The World Health Organization said there was a 7% rise in new coronavirus cases across Europe last week, the only region in the world where cases increased.

In its weekly assessment of the pandemic released late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said there were about 2.7 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week, similar to the numbers reported the previous week. Britain, Russia and Turkey accounted for the most cases.

The biggest drop in COVID-19 cases were seen in Africa and the Western Pacific, where infections fell by about 18% and 16%, respectively. The number of deaths in Africa also declined by about a quarter, despite the dire shortage of vaccines on the continent. Other regions, including the Americas and the Middle East, reported similar numbers to the previous week, WHO said.

But for the third consecutive week, coronavirus cases have jumped in Europe, with about 1.3 million new cases. More than half of countries in the region reported a rise in their COVID-19 numbers, WHO said.

In the past week, Russia has repeatedly broken new daily records for COVID-19 cases and the number of infections in the U.K. has surged to levels not seen since mid-July.

Although the head of Britain’s National Health Service has urged the government to introduce stricter COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing and the faster vaccination of children, politicians have so far demurred.

In Russia, officials have struggled to vaccinate its population and only about 32% of people have been immunized despite the availability of its Sputnik V vaccine. It has by far the highest death toll in Europe, with more than 225,000 deaths.