Reported Covid-19 cases worldwide declined for the third week in a row, although the numbers confirmed are still at some of the highest levels over the course of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Another 4.8 million new Covid-19 cases were reported around the world this week, along with nearly 86,000 new deaths, according to WHO’s Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, which compiled data from national health authorities through May 16.
Declining cases: Cases fell 12% overall on the previous week. Europe reported the sharpest decline, with 26% fewer cases on the week before.
“All regions reported a decline in new cases this week apart from the Western Pacific Region, where the incidence of new cases was similar to the previous week,” the report said.
Record highs: The global drop in recent weeks comes after Covid-19 cases reached an all-time peak in April. Covid-19 is continuing to spread at high rates in many countries.
The highest number of new cases was in India, with 2.3 million more people falling ill this week — a 13% decrease from the last week. In Brazil, there were 437,000 new cases, up 3% from the previous week.
While India is in crisis, there are also worrying spikes in cases and hospitalizations in many nations including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Egypt, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing Friday.
“Covid-19 has already cost more than 3.3 million lives and we’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” he said.
India reported 4,529 new Covid-19 related fatalities Wednesday morning, the highest daily death toll the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.
It’s the first time India has reported more than 4,500 deaths in a single day, and brings the country’s total Covid-19 death toll to 283,248.
India has reported more than 3,000 new Covid deaths every day since April 28.
The South Asian country reported 267,334 new cases of Covid-19 Wednesday, the third consecutive day it has seen fewer than 300,000 cases amid a devastating second wave of infections.
Wednesday’s tally brings the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 25,496,330, according to the Indian health ministry.
To date, 185.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in India, with 1,279,896 shots recorded on Tuesday, according to the health ministry.
Thailand reported its highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day Tuesday as officials struggle to contain a third coronavirus wave ripping through overcrowded prisons.
The Southeast Asian country’s justice minister said authorities are hoping to prioritize vaccinating more than 300,000 inmates and jail staff by diverting doses from the health ministry.
On Monday, Thailand reported 9,635 new coronavirus cases — the highest number of new infections since the pandemic began, according to its Covid-19 task force (CCSA). Of those cases, 6,853 — more than 70% — were found in eight prisons and detention facilities across the country.
By Tuesday morning local time, 2,473 new Covid-19 cases had been confirmed, of which 680 were from prisons. Thailand also reported 35 related deaths nationwide on Tuesday, its highest number of daily fatalities, according to CCSA.
The new figures bring the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 127,184, with 649 related deaths — relatively small numbers compared to those in other parts of the world. Thailand has managed to keep overall cases low until the most recent outbreak emerged in early April from a Bangkok entertainment district before spreading to a slum area.
Thailand’s prison clusters came to light when several pro-democracy protest leaders, accused of insulting the monarchy and held in pre-trial detention following popular demonstrations last year, announced they had tested positive for Covid-19 after being released on bail. Following the news, Thai authorities began mass testing the country’s prison population.
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The US has reached a “landmark day” in the Covid-19 pandemic as 60% of American adults have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
In addition, more than 3.5 million people ages 12 to 17 have received their first dose, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
And more people of color are getting vaccinated — marking “encouraging national trends,” said White House Covid-19 Response Team senior adviser Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
In the past two weeks, 51% of those vaccinated in the US were people of color. That’s higher than the 40% of the general population these groups represent.
“We recognize ZIP code is a stronger predictor of health,” Nunez-Smith said.
Meeting people where they are and bringing vaccines to communities seem to be working, she said.
Black, Latino and Native American communities have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. And some in those groups were hesitant about getting vaccinated because of medical mistreatment in the past.
But efforts to protect minority communities appear to be paying off. From all the federal vaccination sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 60% of shots have been given to people of color, Nunez-Smith said.
And about 70% of shots administered through the federal government’s community health centers have been given to people of color, she said.
But the need to vaccinate more Americans to help stop the virus from resurging is far from met.
“We need to continue to ensure vaccination coverage is uniform across the country,” Walensky said Tuesday.
“This will require us to meet people where they are, to listen to their concerns, and to help people make informed decision about vaccination.”