The cumulative number of global COVID-19 cases had exceeded 271.9 million with the death toll exceeding 5.33 million as of Friday, according to the latest data released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Specifically, there had been 271,963,258 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,331,019 deaths, Reuters reported.
As of December 15, a total of 8,337,664,456 vaccine doses had been administered across the world, according to the WHO.
The United States has remained the worst-hit nation by the pandemic with the world’s most cases and deaths.
The country’s case count rose to 50,676,170 Friday, with the death toll reaching 805,410, according to data released by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Data shows that the daily new coronavirus cases in the U.S. averaged over 120,000 in the past week, with the daily death toll averaging a staggering figure of 1,286, up 8 percent compared with the previous week, Reuters reported.
The White House COVID-19 Response Team said on Friday the situation is likely to worsen due to the raging Omicron variant. Jeffrey Zients, the response team coordinator said that the unvaccinated are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for themselves, their families, and hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.
Besides, a large number of Americans are planning to travel during the approaching holiday, adding to the uncertainty of the situation.
Britain reported 93,045 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, breaking the daily record for the third consecutive day and bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 11,190,354, according to official figures released Friday.
Another 3,201 Omicron cases have been found in Britain, the biggest daily increase since the COVID-19 variant was detected in the country, taking the total Omicron cases found in the country to 14,909, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said Friday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News that Omicron is a “very serious threat” and that the country is seeing a “very serious wave coming through”.
France reported on Friday 58,128 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 8,518,840, according to the French Public Health Agency.
The country’s COVID-19 death toll had risen to 121,312 as of Friday.
According to statistics, the number of cases per 100,000 population in France is 515.4, the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic.
As of Friday, France had confirmed 310 Omicron cases.
Germany reported 50,968 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the country’s total cases to 6,721,375, said the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned Friday that Germany must assume it will be challenged by a massive fifth wave due to the Omicron variant.
Lauterbach said Germany is now at a “critical moment” in the fourth wave of the outbreak, and that the Omicron virus-related outbreak is expected to pose a huge challenge to German hospitals, intensive care units and society as a whole. Therefore, he believes that it is important to be prepared for the challenge and to conduct vaccination efforts as quickly and intensively as possible.
India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 34,733,194 on Saturday, as 7,145 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the Federal Health Ministry’slatest data.
Besides, 289 deaths due to the pandemic reported since Friday morning took the total death toll to 477,158.
There are still 84,565 active COVID-19 cases in the country, as there was a fall of 1,850 active cases during the past 24 hours.
A total of 34,171,471 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals so far, out of which 8,706 were discharged during the past 24 hours.
Twenty five new cases of the Omicron variant were logged in India Friday, the highest daily new cases since the country reporting the first Omicron cases.
India has now reported 113 cases of the Omicron variant in 11 districts.
The Indian Health Ministry has stressed the need to follow COVID-19 protocols, including using face masks, maintaining social distance and getting vaccination.
WHO declares end to COVID global health emergency
The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, marking a symbolic end to the devastating coronavirus pandemic that triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions of people worldwide.
The announcement, made more than three years after WHO declared the coronavirus an international crisis, offers some relief, if not an ending, to a pandemic that stirred fear and suspicion, hand-wringing and finger-pointing across the globe, AP reported.
The U.N. health agency’s officials said that even though the emergency phase was over, the pandemic hasn’t finished, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
WHO says thousands of people are still dying from the virus every week, and millions of others are suffering from debilitating, long-term effects.
“It’s with great hope that I declare COVID-19 over as a global health emergency,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“That does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat,” he said, warning that new variants could yet emerge. Tedros noted that while the official COVID-19 death toll was 7 million, the real figure was estimated to be at least 20 million.
Tedros said the pandemic had been on a downward trend for more than a year, acknowledging that most countries have already returned to life before COVID-19.
He bemoaned the damage that COVID-19 had done to the global community, saying the pandemic had shattered businesses, exacerbated political divisions, led to the spread of misinformation and plunged millions into poverty.
When the U.N. health agency first declared the coronavirus to be an international crisis on Jan. 30, 2020, it hadn’t yet been named COVID-19 and there were no major outbreaks beyond China.
More than three years later, the virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases globally and about 5 billion people have received at least one dose of vaccine.
In the U.S., the public health emergency declaration made regarding COVID-19 is set to expire on May 11, when wide-ranging measures to support the pandemic response, including vaccine mandates, will end. Many other countries, including Germany, France and Britain, dropped most of their provisions against the pandemic last year.
When Tedros declared COVID-19 to be an emergency in 2020, he said his greatest fear was the virus’ potential to spread in countries with weak health systems.
Most recently, WHO has struggled to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, a challenging scientific endeavor that has also become politically fraught.
COVID-19 in Iran: Nearly 900 new cases, 24 deaths recorded
The Iranian health ministry announced on Sunday that more than 890 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified across the country during the past 24 hours, adding that 24 patients have died in the same period of time, Fars News Agency reported.
“A sum of 891 new patients infected with COVID-19 have been identified in the country based on confirmed diagnosis criteria during the past 24 hours,” the Iranian Health Ministry’s Public Relations Center said on Sunday, adding, “454 patients have been hospitalized during the same time span.”
The ministry’s public relations center said 611 people infected with COVID-19 are in critical condition.
China says 200 million treated, pandemic ‘decisively’ beaten
China says more than 200 million of its citizens have been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19 since it lifted strict containment measures beginning in November.
With 800,000 of the most critically ill patients having recovered, China has “decisively beaten” the pandemic, according to notes from a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee presided over by President and party leader Xi Jinping, AP reported.
China enforced some of the world’s most draconian lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions and still faces questions about the origins of the virus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Heavy-handed enforcement prompted rare anti-government protests and took a heavy toll on the world’s second-largest economy.
The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying that policies to control the outbreak had been “entirely correct.” The abrupt lifting in November and December of the “zero COVID” policy that had sought to eliminate all cases of the virus led to a surge in infections that temporarily overwhelmed hospitals.
Case numbers have since peaked and life has largely returned to normal, although international travel in and out of China has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
China is now transitioning to a post-pandemic stage after a fight against the outbreak that was “extraordinary in the extreme,” Xinhua said.
The government will continue to “optimize and adjust prevention and control policies and measures according to the times and situations with a strong historical responsibility and strong strategic determination,” Xinhua said.
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