World sees record weekly number of COVID-19 cases: WHO

A medical worker tests for the coronavirus.

File: A medical worker tests for the coronavirus.

AFP/Spencer Platt

GENEVA - The coronavirus pandemic appears to be accelerating worldwide, with new cases soaring last week to a new seven-day high of almost two million, even as new deaths decreased, WHO statistics showed.

In a fresh global update, the World Health Organization said that during the week ending on 20 September, 1,998,897 new cases of the novel coronavirus were registered around the world.

That marks a six percent increase over a week earlier and "the highest number of reported cases in a single week since the beginning of the epidemic," the UN health agency said.

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Since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in China late last year, it has infected more than 31 million people around the globe and has killed nearly 962,000, according to an AFP tally from official sources on Monday.

Nearly all regions of the world saw new cases rise last week, WHO said, with Europe and the Americas seeing new cases swell by 11 and 10 percent respectively.

Only Africa, which has remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic, dodged the upward trend, reporting a 12 percent drop in fresh cases from a week earlier.

Even as cases shot up across much of the world, the number of new deaths is going down, the WHO statistics showed.

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The United States, which is the world's worst-hit country, and Brazil, the second-worst hit, continued to report the highest number of deaths, each reporting over 5,000 new deaths in the past week.

Europe, some of which is experiencing a second wave of infections,  meanwhile saw its new death count shoot up to over 4,000 for the seven-day period, a 27 percent hike compared to a week earlier.

In Europe, France, Russia, Spain and Britain reported the highest number of new cases in the past week, while Hungary and Denmark reported the highest relative increase in deaths.