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Newly reported coronavirus cases are falling around the world, but World Health Organization officials urged caution on Wednesday, saying a drop in testing could contribute to the drop and covid deaths remain at a low. alarming level.

In the week starting February 7, health officials reported 16.3 million new infections worldwide, down 18.2% from the previous week, WHO figures show. . Deaths, however, rose slightly over the same period, to over 73,000, an increase of 0.5% from the previous week.

“This is the sixth week in a row that we’ve seen an increase in deaths,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said during a live-streamed event. “At this point in the pandemic, when we have tools that can save lives, that’s way, way too much.”

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, urged people to get vaccinated and maintain preventative measures such as masking, isolation or quarantine. “This idea that we’re going to give up everything, I think that’s a very premature concept in a lot of countries right now,” he said.

The WHO-designated Western Pacific region – which covers most countries between Mongolia and Australia – was the only one of its six regions to record an increase in cases for the week starting February 7. It recorded nearly 1.57 million new cases that week, reflecting an 18.7% increase from the previous week.

All other regions, including Africa, where less than a fifth of the continent’s 1.2 billion people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, have seen the number of new infections fall, according to WHO counts.

The Eastern Mediterranean region – including countries in Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East – saw the largest proportional increase in the number of deaths during the week of February 7, making state of 3,286 deaths, an increase of nearly 40% from the previous week.

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