Over 5.5 million novel coronavirus cases and over 90,000 deaths were registered worldwide in the past week, which is 4% less than during the previous seven-day period, the World Health Organization (WHO) said a weekly bulletin released in Geneva early on Wednesday.
"The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths globally decreased slightly this week, with over 5.5 million cases and over 90 000 deaths," the organization said in its COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update. "Case and death incidence, however, remains at the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic."
On May 3-9, the global organization was informed about 5,517,602 new cases all over the world, and 90,242 COVID-related deaths. As of May 9, a total of 157,362,408 cases of the infection and 3,277,834 COVID-related fatalities were reported worldwide, TASS reports.
The most noticeable growth in cases (up 6%) was registered in Southeast Asia, which, according to the WHO classification also includes India. Cases declined by 23% in Europe, by 13% in Eastern Mediterranean, by 5% in Africa, by 4% in North and South America.
Mortality spiked in Western Pacific (up 34%) and Southeast Asia (up 15%), but declined in Europe (down 18%), Eastern Mediterranean (down 13%), North and South America (down 4%) and Africa (down 3%).
In the past seven days, over 919,000 people contracted the infection in Europe, over 19,000 patients died. The number of cases in North and South America increased by over 1.2 million in the reported period, while fatalities grew by 33,000. In Southeast Asia, doctors registered over 2.8 million new cases of the novel coronavirus, over 28,000 patients died.
India accounts for the majority of cases registered on May 3 - May 9 (2.7 million new cases), followed by Brazil (over 423,000 new cases), the United States (over 334,000), Turkey (over 160,000), Argentina (over 140,000), Iran (over 124,000), France (over 122,000), Colombia (over 108,000), Germany (over 103,000), Italy (over 67,000) and Russia (over 57,000).
Also, the WHO reported that VOC 202012/01, a more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus initially detected in the United Kingdom, was found in seven more countries since May 3, bringing their overall number to 149.
The number of countries that reported on their territory the 501Y.V2 strain of novel coronavirus, first discovered in South Africa, has increased by five, to reach 102. The P.1 variant (first identified in Brazil and Japan) is now circulating in 60 states, with four new countries added to the list in the past week.
For the first time, the WHO weekly bulletin used the the "variant of concern" (VOC) status while mentioning the B.1.617 strain, discovered in India in October 2020. Prior to that, the organization assigned the "variant of interest" (VOI) status to this strain.
Scientists have identified three sub-lineages of B.1.617, which differ by "few but potentially relevant mutations." As of May 11, over 4,500 sequences of B.1.617 were detected in biomaterial from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and the WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries. According to the organization, B.1.617 sublineages "appear to have higher rates of transmission, including observed rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries."
Outside of India, the United Kingdom has reported the largest number of cases sequenced as B.1.617 sublineages, and recently designated B.1.617.2 as a national variant of concern, the WHO document says.