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WHO: COVID deaths fell 21% last week but cases are rising
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GENEVA – The number of coronavirus deaths worldwide has fallen by around 21% in the past week, while cases have increased in most parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization.

In its weekly pandemic report released on Thursday, the UN health agency said the number of new COVID-19 cases appeared to have stabilized after weeks of declines since late March, at around 3.5 million. new cases last week, an increase of 1%. The WHO said cases had increased in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and the Western Pacific, while decreasing in Europe and Southeast Asia. Some 9,000 deaths have been recorded.

Infections rose more than 60% in the Middle East and 26% in the Americas, while deaths fell everywhere except Africa, where they jumped nearly 50%.

The COVID-19 figures reported to the WHO do not include recent outbreak figures announced by North Korea, which has not yet officially shared the requested data with the agency.

The authoritarian country led by Kim Jung Un reported more than 262,000 additional suspected cases on Thursday as its case tally nears 2 million, a week after the country acknowledged the outbreak and moved to slow infections in its unvaccinated population.

Earlier this week, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “deeply concerned” about the spread of COVID-19 in North Korea, noting that the population was unvaccinated and that there were a significant number of people with underlying illnesses that could put them at risk of more serious illness and death.

Tedros said the agency is working to persuade North Korea to share more information and accept help, including technical assistance, vaccines, tests and medicine, but has not yet ‘now received no response.

In the Western Pacific, the WHO said the highest number of reported cases were in China, which saw a 94% increase, or more than 389,000 new cases. After weeks of a sometimes harsh and chaotic lockdown, Chinese authorities have announced they will allow some supermarkets, shopping malls and restaurants in its financial capital, Shanghai, to reopen under limited conditions next week.

The WHO’s Tedros has previously described China’s extreme “zero-COVID” approach as “unsustainable”, but acknowledged that countries are free to choose their own control strategies.

Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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