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Global Covid Cases Are Increasing Again As WHO Warns Of Premature Relaxation On Social Distancing




TOPLINE After more than a month of declining new coronavirus infections worldwide, the case count ticked up slightly last week, the World Health Organization said Wednesday — a reversal WHO officials called a “stern warning” as some countries greet the arrival of vaccines by loosening restrictions that reduce the spread of the disease.


  • The WHO reported nearly 2.7 million new confirmed cases last week, an increase of almost 8% from the week prior, ending a six-week streak of falling case counts.
  • The number of coronavirus cases grew in IndiaBrazil, and parts of Europe last week, and case counts remained fairly stable in the United States, according to WHO figures.
  • WHO epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said at a press conference Wednesday the organization is still trying to figure out why cases are suddenly on the rise again, but she warned fatigue about coronavirus restrictions and optimism about vaccines could cause people to disregard social distancing and mask-wearing measures.
  • The WHO said a reopening of society is on the horizon thanks to vaccines, but case counts are still too high to disregard basic public health measures, and a resurgence of the virus could force governments to reintroduce stringent lockdowns.


“It’s really important that everyone out there still adheres to these measures in place, because we have quite a ways to go to continue to drive transmission down,” Van Kerkhove said. “If we allow this virus to spread, it will.”


114.43 million. That’s how many total coronavirus cases the WHO has reported since early 2020, according to figures from Wednesday. More than 2.5 million people have died of the virus worldwide, though weekly deaths have declined steadily for the last four weeks.


Coronavirus infections peaked globally in early January, filling up hospitals across several countries and driving daily death tolls to their highest levels since the pandemic began. This problem was possibly exacerbated by new, highly contagious coronavirus variants first spotted in the United KingdomBrazil and South Africa. As cases slope down from their peak and millions of people worldwide get vaccinated, many U.S. states have loosened their coronavirus restrictions or lifted them altogether, and countries like France and the United Kingdom are plotting a slower reopening process starting next month. But with case counts still high and variants spreading globally, some experts say it’s too soon to reopen.


The WHO’s warnings echoed cautious words from U.S. officials in recent days. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is worried case counts are plateauing or even increasing slightly in the United States. She urged states to hold off on relaxing their restrictions, advice some state officials did not take.


CDC Chief Is ‘Really Worried’ About States Loosening Covid-19 Restrictions—Many Are Doing It Anyway (Forbes)

By Joe Walsh, Forbes Staff