Last Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned nations to remain vigilant against the Covid-19 virus. This statement comes during a global increase of Covid-19 infections, which this time could have much bigger consequences as some countries report a reduction in testing.
After more than one month of decline in cases, Covid-19 numbers are now starting to grow again.
These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we’re seeing are just the tip of the iceberg.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Head of WHO
From March 7 to March 13, over 11 million Covid-19 cases and 43,000 casualties were reported worldwide. This translates into a global 8% increase compared to the previous week—the first rise since the end of January. The Western Pacific Region—which includes China and South Korea—reported the biggest jump, with cases and deaths rising respectively by 25% and 27%. Africa recorded an increase in infections of 12% and a rise in casualties of 14%. On the other side, in regions such as the Eastern Mediterranean region infections declined. However, this area reported a 38% increase in deaths due to a previous spike in cases.
In Europe, cases rose by 2%, while no changes were reported in deaths numbers. Since the beginning of March, infections have risen in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Conversely, in other European countries such as Denmark infections are under control.
According to experts, the U.S. could soon experience a similar situation to that currently seen by Europe, due to BA.2 infections, the lifting of public restrictions, and waning immunity from vaccines administered several months ago.
According to the WHO, this global rise is being caused by a combination of factors, including the lifting of public health measures and social restrictions, and the simultaneous spread of the Omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2. WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove said that BA.2 seems to be the most transmissible variant so far, although there are no signs that it causes more severe symptoms. Low vaccination rates due to public misinformation are also a main cause of the new Covid-19 surge, the WHO added.
Antonella Viola, professor of immunology at the University of Padua, Italy, agrees with the easing of restrictions. However, she also believes that countries must be aware that the virus is still here and thus keep monitoring and tracking new infections. “We just have to avoid thinking that Covid is no longer there. And therefore maintain the strictly necessary measures, which are essentially the continuous monitoring and tracking of cases, and the maintenance of the obligation to wear a mask in closed or very crowded places”, concludes Viola.