Number of new Covid cases increased 52% globally in past one month: WHO

Number of new Covid cases increased 52% globally in past one month: WHO

Number of new Covid cases increased 52% globally in past one month: WHO

The number of new deaths decreased by 8 per cent as compared to the previous 28-day period, with over 3,000 new fatalities reported, World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest press release.

As of December 17, over 772 million confirmed cases and nearly seven million deaths have been reported globally since the onset of COVID-19, the WHO noted.

Further, the WHO said over 118,000 new COVID-19 hospitalisations and over 1600 new intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been recorded, with an overall increase of 23 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, globally.

As of December 18, 2023, JN.1, a sub-lineage of BA.2.86 Omicron variant has been designated a separate variant of interest (VOI) apart from its parent lineage BA.2.86 due to its rapid increase in prevalence in recent weeks. Globally, EG.5 remains the most reported variant of interest.

Due to its rapidly increasing spread, WHO is classifying the variant JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI) from the parent lineage BA.2.86. It was previously classified as VOI as part of BA.2.86 sublineages.

Based on the available evidence, the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low. Despite this, with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries.

The WHO had earlier said it was continuously monitoring the evidence and would update the JN.1 risk evaluation as needed.

Current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it noted.

COVID-19 is not the only respiratory disease circulating. Influenza, RSV, and common childhood pneumonia are also on the rise.

The WHO advises people to take measures to prevent infections and severe disease using all available tools. These include wearing a mask when in crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated areas, keeping a safe distance from others, practising respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes), cleaning hands regularly, and getting tested if one has any symptoms or if you might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or influenza.