People wait for COVID-19 testing in the Queens borough of New York, the United States, Dec 29, 2021. (PHOTO/XINHUA)
GENEVA – The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 600 million, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
As of Thursday, WHO reported that there have been 600,555,262 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, including 6,472,914 deaths.
The United States has the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths, with more than 93.21 million cases and over 1.03 million deaths. Together, these account for nearly 15 percent of the global total
The United States has the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths, with more than 93.21 million cases and over 1.03 million deaths. Together, these account for nearly 15 percent of the global total.
The next highest totals have been recorded in India and Brazil, which have confirmed cases exceeding 44 million and 34 million respectively, as well as 527,911 and 683,851 deaths.
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In terms of WHO regional offices, Europe and the Americas have so far reported more than 248 million and 175 million confirmed cases, as well as 2,077,355 and 2,817,530 deaths, respectively. The two regions combined account for over 70 percent of the world's total confirmed cases and over 75 percent of deaths.
Though the weekly numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths have continued to decline, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that the world had passed "the tragic milestone of one million reported deaths so far this year."
He added: "We cannot say we are learning to live with COVID-19 when one million people have died with COVID-19 this year alone, when we are two-and-a-half years into the pandemic and have all the tools necessary to prevent these deaths."
WHO has called on all countries at all income levels to vaccinate those most at risk, and to ensure access to life-saving treatment, while continuing testing and sequencing of the virus.
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Omicron remains the dominant variant, with the BA.5 sub-variant representing more than 90 percent of sequences shared with WHO. However, the number of sequences shared per week has fallen by 90 percent since the beginning of this year, and the number of countries sharing sequences has dropped by 75 percent, making it difficult to understand how the virus might be changing.
With colder weather approaching in the northern hemisphere, Tedros has warned that an increase in hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 can be expected in the coming months.