Omicron BA.5 dominant subvariant; over 6.6 million new COVID cases in a week: WHO

Among the top 50 countries that have reported increases in deaths, 35 countries had more than a 100% increase in deaths reported in the last week. Three countries had more than a 1,000% increase in deaths in the last week

Almost half of the deaths that were reported in the last week were from the Americas and about 33% of those deaths were in Europe, WHO said. Representational image

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concerns over the increase in COVID-19 cases and said Omicron, the latest variant of concern, is dominant worldwide and there are many subvariants, sublineages of Omicron that are currently circulating.

According to WHO, globally, the number of weekly cases reported during the week of 18 to 24 July was similar to the number reported last week, with over 6.6 million new cases. Likewise, the number of new weekly deaths was similar to the number reported during the previous week, with over 12,600 fatalities. As of 24 July, over 567 million confirmed cases and over 6.3 million deaths have been reported globally.

Also read: Omicron and Delta symptoms are different, study confirms

WHO’s Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and COVID-19 Technical Lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said for the sixth week in a row, COVID cases are increasing around the world.

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“We are seeing a continued increase in case detections of COVID-19. It is the fifth or sixth week in a row where we are seeing increases in the reported number of cases,” she said.

“Omicron, the latest variant of concern, is dominant worldwide and there are many subvariants, sublineages of Omicron that are currently circulating. About half of the sequences that have been shared in the last four weeks or so are BA.5, one of the sublineages, and there are even further sublineages of BA.5. So, this virus continues to evolve,” she added.

Also read: New COVID-19 wave: WHO chief concerned about rising cases, deaths

She explained that cases were increasing as people were not wearing masks and there was no social distancing. “This is driven by a number of factors. It is driven by intense mixing of individuals in the absence of mitigation measures, in the absence of wearing masks and distancing.”

The expert said deaths were increasing due to individuals not being protected with the vaccine.

“Deaths are also increasing. And deaths have been increasing for the last five weeks. This is driven by some groups that are not well protected with the vaccine, meaning they have not been vaccinated or they have not received the full number of doses that are required for them,” she said.

Also read: New Omicron sub-variant BA.2.75 has 18% growth advantage over the rest

According to her, almost half of the deaths that were reported in the last week were from the Americas and about 33% of those deaths were in Europe. Among the top 50 countries that have reported increases in deaths, 35 countries had more than a 100% increase in deaths reported in the last week. Three countries had more than a 1,000% increase in deaths in the last week.

She said only way to reduce risk of infections was protecting themselves with masks, social distancing and also recommended people to work from home.

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