The World Health Organization says the number of newly reported coronavirus cases fell in the last week, continuing a declining global trend that first began in August.
In its latest assessment of the pandemic, the UN health agency reported that there were 3.1 million new COVID-19 cases, a nine per cent fall, and about 54,000 deaths in the last week, roughly similar to the week before. WHO said there were declines in case numbers in all world regions except for Europe, where the number was about the same as the previous week.
COVID-19 cases fell by about 43 per cent in Africa, by about 20 per cent in both the Middle East and Southeast Asia and 12 per cent in the Americas and the Western Pacific. The largest decline in deaths was seen in Africa, where numbers decreased by about a quarter.
WHO also said nearly a third of African countries managed to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. The WHO chief has repeatedly urged rich countries to pass on giving booster doses until at least the end of the year.
On Monday, the European Medicines Agency gave its endorsement to EU countries offering a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot to people 18 and over.
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As of Wednesday morning, more than 235.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
COVID-19 test-kit maker Ellume is recalling some at-home tests after learning that they were reporting a higher-than-expected rate of false positive results indicating someone has the virus when they do not.
The Australian company has said the tests were shipped to U.S. retailers and other distributors from April through August. It published a list on its website of the lot numbers on test packages affected by the recall.
Also in the U.S., surging demand for COVID-19 tests from employers has exacerbated a nationwide shortage of rapid tests in recent weeks and is driving up costs for state and local testing programs, according to industry executives and state officials.
In Europe, Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll surpassed 900 on Wednesday for the first time in the pandemic, a record that comes amid the country’s low vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to impose tough restrictions to control new cases.
In the Czech Republic, people are casting ballots from their cars in the parliamentary election, a novelty forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 82 drive-in temporary ballot stations have been established by the armed forces across the country for those ordered to quarantine due to coronavirus infections or those who need to self-isolate.
In Asia, Singapore’s Health Ministry reported 3,486 new cases, the highest daily tally since the beginning of the pandemic.
In Africa, Zimbabwe is allowing bars to reopen for the first time in more than a year, but only fully vaccinated people
will be allowed to take a swig from inside the premises.