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WHO Reports 52% Rise in Global COVID-19 Cases in a Month

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a 52% increase in new COVID-19 cases globally in the last 28 days, as the pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to public health.

According to the latest WHO epidemiological update, more than 850,000 new cases were recorded from November 20 to December 17, 2023, compared to the previous 28-day period. The number of new deaths, however, decreased by 8%, with over 3,000 new fatalities reported.

The update also provided information on hospitalisations and ICU admissions, and updates on the variants of interest and variants under monitoring. It said that over 118,000 new COVID-19 hospitalisations and over 1,600 new ICU admissions were recorded in the same period, with an overall increase of 23% and 51%, respectively, among the countries reporting consistently.

The WHO also announced that a new variant of interest, JN.1, has been designated as a separate sub-lineage of the Omicron variant (BA.2.86), due to its rapid increase in prevalence in recent weeks. JN.1 was previously classified as a variant of interest as part of the BA.2.86 sublineages.

The WHO said that based on the available evidence, the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low. However, it warned that with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries.

The WHO said it is continuously monitoring the evidence and will update the JN.1 risk evaluation as needed. It also said that current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The WHO reminded the public that COVID-19 is not the only respiratory disease circulating, and that influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and common childhood pneumonia are on the rise.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a series of recommendations to help individuals prevent infections and severe diseases. These guidelines include:

  • Wearing a mask in crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated areas, and maintaining a safe distance from others whenever possible.
  • Practicing good respiratory hygiene, such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Regularly washing your hands.
  • Keeping up to date with vaccinations against COVID-19 and influenza, particularly if you are at high risk for severe disease.
  • Staying home if you are feeling unwell.
  • Seeking testing if you have symptoms, or if you believe you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or influenza.

In addition to these individual measures, the WHO has called on nations to bolster their health systems, improve surveillance and testing, and implement evidence-based public health and social measures to control the spread of the virus.

The organization has also emphasized the need for global unity and cooperation. This includes ensuring fair access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, and providing support to the most vulnerable and affected populations. The WHO’s goal is to foster a collective response to the ongoing health crisis.

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