The death toll from the coronavirus fell 9 percent in the past week, while new cases remained relatively stable, according to the latest weekly pandemic report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
The United Nations health agency said there were more than 14,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the past week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30% jump in cases, while Africa saw a 46% drop. Cases also fell by more than 20 percent in the Americas and the Middle East.
The number of new deaths rose by 19% in the Middle East, while it fell by more than 70% in Africa, 15% in Europe and 10% in the Americas.
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The WHO said the omicron BA.5 subvariant remains globally dominant, accounting for nearly 70% of all virus sequences shared with the world’s largest publicly available virus database. The agency said other omicron subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.2, appear to be decreasing in prevalence as BA.5 takes over.
The WHO warned that its assessment of COVID-19 trends remains compromised because countries have abandoned many of their testing, surveillance and sequencing efforts as most countries have relaxed pandemic controls.
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Still, Chinese authorities announced new restrictions this week, after cases of COVID-19 were found on the tourist island of Hainan and in Tibet. Earlier this week, the Chinese government closed the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, and also shut down Haikou, the capital of Hainan, in addition to several other cities, including the resort town of Sanya.
About 80,000 tourists were stranded in Sanya this week after Chinese officials declared it a hot spot for COVID-19 and required people to test negative five times in a week before they could leave.
On Tuesday, the Chinese government sent a first planeload of 125 tourists out of Sanya and said other flights would be arranged to fly the tourists out in batches once they met criteria to leave.
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