The coronavirus pandemic is still raging worldwide, but fresh World Health Organization data indicates its pace is easing in most regions, with the biggest slowdown seen in the hard-hit Americas.
A man wearing a face mask as a protective measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus walks along an empty street in the Myeongdong shopping district of Seoul on August 25, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
More than 1.7 million new coronavirus cases and some 39,000 new deaths were recorded last week, the WHO said in a situation report published late Monday.
The numbers for the seven-day period ending on August 23 mark a five-percent decrease in new COVID-19 cases globally and a 12-percent drop in new deaths compared to a week earlier.
Despite the slowdown, the fresh numbers pushed the global total since the start of the pandemic to well over 23 million cases and more than 800,000 deaths.
With the exception of Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean, all regions registered declines in new numbers, the UN health agency said.
The Americas remain by far the hardest-hit in the pandemic, accounting last week for half of all newly reported cases and 62 percent of deaths.
But the region also saw the biggest slowdown, with the number of new cases decreasing 11 percent and new deaths falling 17 percent from a week earlier, driven in part by reduced transmission reported from the United States and Brazil -- the world's two worst-affected countries, the data showed.
The WHO meanwhile cautioned that several countries and territories in the Caribbean had reported large increases in cases, and suggested this could be linked to growing tourism.
WHO's Southeast Asia region -- the second-most affected -- accounted for 28 percent of all new cases and 19 percent of all new deaths reported globally last week, with both categories swelling four percent compared to a week earlier, the data showed.
India continues to report the vast majority of confirmed cases and deaths in that WHO region, with 455,000 new cases last week. That brought its total to well over three million and with more than 6,700 new deaths pushed its toll up to over 56,700.
In the Eastern Mediterranean region too the number of cases continued to climb last week, rising four percent from a week earlier, but new deaths in the region dipped for the sixth week in a row.
Meanwhile in Europe, where the number of new cases has been steadily climbing in recent weeks, the pace slowed slightly, by one percent last week, the data showed.
New fatalities in Europe continued to slow, falling a full 12 percent compared to a week earlier.