Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the World Health Organisation. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.
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  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that global coronavirus deaths are on the rise again in a “worrying sign” after six weeks of declines
  • The increasing number of deaths follow a fifth straight week of rising infections globally, with the number of reported cases up in four of the WHO’s six regions
  • Such an increase is thought to be driven in part by the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in other areas
  • Southeast Asia reported a 49 per cent week-to-week jump in cases while the WHO’s Western Pacific region posted a 29 per cent rise
  • The eastern Mediterranean region saw an eight per cent climb, while the Americas and Africa were the only areas to report declines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that global coronavirus deaths are on the rise again in a “worrying sign” after six weeks of declines.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said the increasing number of deaths follow a fifth straight week of rising infections globally, adding that the number of reported cases were up in four of the WHO’s six regions.

“In the last week, cases have increased by 8 per cent,” Van Kerkhove told reporters. “In Europe, that is 12 per cent — and that’s driven by several countries.”

The increase is thought to be driven in part by the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in other areas, including eastern Europe.

South East Asia reported a 49 per cent week-to-week jump in cases while the WHO’s Western Pacific region posted a 29 per cent rise, which was largely fuelled by spiralling numbers in the Philippines.

The eastern Mediterranean region saw an eight per cent climb, while the Americas and Africa were the only areas to report declines.

“I do want to mention that it had been about six weeks where we were seeing decreases in deaths,” Van Kerkhove said.

“And in the last week, we’ve started to see a slight increase in deaths across the world, and this is to be expected if we are to see increasing cases. But this is also a worrying sign.”

Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, acknowledged the urge among the public to push back on pandemic-related restrictions but insisted that any easing should coincide with additional measures like strict case surveillance and high levels of vaccination.

“I’m afraid we’re all trying to grasp at straws. We’re trying to find the golden solution: ‘So we just get enough vaccine and we push enough vaccine to people and that’s going to take care of it,'” he said.

“I’m sorry, it’s not.”

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