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WHO: COVID-19 deaths fall overall by 9%

Subvariant BA.5 accounts for 70% of cases globally

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A man pulls his mask to get his routine COVID-19 throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Chinese authorities have closed Tibet's famed Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in the Himalayan region.
A man pulls his mask to get his routine COVID-19 throat swab at a coronavirus testing site in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Chinese authorities have closed Tibet's famed Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in the Himalayan region. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Photo Gallery

LONDON — The number of coronavirus deaths fell by 9 percent in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable, according to the latest weekly pandemic report released by the World Health Organization Wednesday.

The U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in the last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30 percent jump in cases while Africa reported a 46 percent drop. Cases also fell by more than 20 percent in the Americas and the Middle East.

The number of new deaths rose by 19 percent in the Middle East, while dropping by more than 70 percent in Africa, 15 percent in Europe and 10 percent in the Americas.

The WHO said that the omicron subvariant BA.5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all virus sequences shared with the world’s biggest publicly available virus database. The agency said other omicron subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.2, appear to be decreasing in prevalence.

The WHO cautioned that its assessment of COVID-19 trends remains compromised by countries dropping many of their testing, surveillance and sequencing efforts as most countries have relaxed pandemic controls.

Still, Chinese authorities have announced new restrictions this week, after finding COVID-19 cases in the tourist island of Hainan and in Tibet. Earlier this week, the Chinese government shut down Lhasa’s Potala Palace, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama.

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