Over 4.1 mln people contracted the coronavirus infection worldwide over the past week, more than 44,000 died, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Wednesday.
The number of new infections decreased by 2%, while the number of fatalities declined by 9% compared to the previous seven-day period.
According to the WHO Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, a total of 4,177,622 new cases and 44,616 deaths were reported to the global organization between December 13 and 19.
In Africa, a significant increase in incidence (up 53%) and mortality (up 15%) was registered. The other region that reported an increase in cases was West Pacific (up 12%) but the number of fatalities there declined by 6%.
Europe accounts for 63% of weekly infections and 60% of deaths. However, a 3% decrease in incidence and a 7% decrease in mortality was registered in the region. The number of new cases fell by 10% in America and by 12% in Southeast Asia. A noticeable decline in mortality was reported by America (down 15%) and Eastern Mediterranean (down 12%).
The biggest number of the new cases in the past week was reported by the United States (725,750), followed by the United Kingdom (507,984), France (358,175), and Germany (283,673). Omicron statistics
The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus was detected in 106 countries, the World Health Organization said.
"As of 21 December 2021 (2 pm CET), the Omicron variant has been confirmed in 106 countries," the bulletin says. "The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high." Read also First patients with Omicron strain in Russia discharged from hospitals - sanitary doctor
Between October 20 and December 19, Omicron was detected in 1.6% of samples that underwent sequencing. The Delta variant remains the dominant one worldwide, and was detected in 96% of samples.
"Recent evidence indicates that Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant and is spreading rapidly," the organization said, adding that Omicron was spreading quickly even in countries "with high levels of population immunity."
As to the clinical severity of Omicron, the data are still limited, WHO said.
Hospitalizations in the UK and South Africa continue to rise. In this regard, the organization believes that "it is possible that healthcare systems may become overwhelmed."
As of December 21, since the beginning of the pandemic, 274,628,461 people have been infected worldwide, and 5,358,978 deaths have been reported. Over the past 24 hours, the number of infections has increased by 543,414, while the number of fatalities has increased by 6,488.
The US is in first place in terms of confirmed infections reported to the WHO with 50,565,638 cases, followed by India (34,752,164) and Brazil (22,213,762).
The highest number of fatalities was also recorded in the US (799,942), followed by Brazil (617,803) and India (478,007).