In the last week, there was a decrease of nearly 16% in the new cases of COVID-19 globally to 2.7 million, the World Health Organization said on late Tuesday. The organisation in its weekly epidemiological update added that the number of deaths coronavirus, in figures up to Sunday, also fell 10%, week-on-week, to 81,000. 

Furthermore, five of the six WHO regions in the world reported a decline of double-digit percentage in new infections as only the Eastern Mediterranean showed a rise of cases by 7%. Meanwhile, in Africa and Western Pacific, there was a drop of 20% in new cases, followed by 18% in Europe, 16% in the US, and 13% in southeast Asia. 

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The number of new COVID-19 cases declined for the fifth straight week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday as the infections have dropped almost half from more than five million cases in the week of January 4.

“This shows that simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants,” Tedros said.

“What matters now is how we respond to this trend. The fire is not out, but we have reduced its size. If we stop fighting it on any front, it will come roaring back.”

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The first variant of coronavirus was detected in the United Kingdom and it has now been reported in 94 nations, an increase of eight countries, as of Monday, the WHO’s update said. Meanwhile, local transmission of the UK variant has been reported in 47 nations. 

The South African variant has been reported in 46 nations, up by two, while the local transmission is in at least 12 of those nations, 

The Brazilian variant has been detected in 21 nations, up by six, as local transmission has been reported in at least two nations. 

On the vaccine front, the Covax facility, under which COVID-19 vaccines are being procured globally in a bid to ensure poorer nations get access to doses, is in its final shipment list for the first deliveries that will be issued next week, after the WHO gave green light to AstraZeneca jabs.

Some 145 economies participating in Covax are set to receive enough doses to immunise 3.3% of their collective population by mid-2021.

“Deliveries for this first round of allocation will take place on a rolling basis and in tranches,” Covax said.