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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 23, 2023  1 month, 4 weeks, 1 day, 20 hours, 29 minutes ago

COVID-19 News: WHO Says New COVID-19 Cases Increased 52% Globally In Past 28 Days While COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increased By 23 Percent!

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COVID-19 News: WHO Says New COVID-19 Cases Increased 52% Globally In Past 28 Days While COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increased By 23 Percent!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 23, 2023  1 month, 4 weeks, 1 day, 20 hours, 29 minutes ago
COVID19 News: In its most recent COVID-19 epidemiological update, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided a comprehensive overview of the current state of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With a focus on the 28-day period from November 20 to December 17, 2023, the WHO has underscored significant increases in new cases and hospitalizations, alongside emerging concerns about new SARS-CoV-2 variants. This COVID-19 News report delves into the finer details, regional nuances, and the implications of the latest findings, shedding light on the evolving nature of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases and global deaths by 28-day intervals reported by WHO Region, as of 17 December 2023

Global Overview
As of December 17, 2023, the global COVID-19 landscape is marked by over 772 million confirmed cases and nearly seven million deaths. However, the 28-day period under scrutiny has seen a stark increase of 52% in new cases, with over 850,000 reported cases worldwide. It's noteworthy that the reported cases may not accurately represent actual infection rates due to reduced testing and reporting globally.
Despite the surge in new cases, there has been a modest 8% decrease in new fatalities during this period, with over 3,000 deaths reported. The WHO emphasizes the importance of interpreting these trends cautiously, given the reduced testing and reporting globally. Only 45% of countries (105 out of 234) reported cases during this period, underscoring the need for a nuanced interpretation of the data.
The countries with the highest reported numbers of new 28-day cases at the national level include the Russian Federation (279,359 new cases, an increase of 130%), Singapore (120,898 new cases, a rise of 86%), Italy (114,795 new cases, a modest increase of 10%), Poland (39,828 new cases, showing an 82% increase), and Australia (39,505 new cases, with a 12% uptick).
In terms of new 28-day deaths, Italy reported the highest figures (510 new deaths, reflecting a decrease of 15%), followed by Sweden (396 new deaths, an increase of 6%), the Russian Federation (376 new deaths, showing a 50% rise), Australia (211 new deaths, indicating a decrease of 35%), and Poland (141 new deaths, with a substantial increase of 76%).
Regional Variations
The WHO's analysis further reveals divergent trends across its six regions. The European Region experienced a substantial 54% increase in new cases, with countries like Estonia, Luxembourg, and Slovakia reporting staggering proportional increases. Meanwhile, the Western Pacific Region reported a 67% surge, driven by notable increases in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

In stark contrast, the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the Region of the Americas saw decreases of 51% and 23%, respectively. This divergence underscores the dynamic nature of the p andemic and the varying impacts across different geographical areas.
Hospitalizations and ICU Admissions
A critical aspect of the evolving situation is the surge in hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions globally. Over the past 28 days, a total of over 118,000 new hospitalizations and 1,610 new ICU admissions have been reported. The overall increase of 23% in new hospitalizations and 51% in new ICU admissions is a cause for concern.
Regional variations in hospitalizations and ICU admissions highlight the need for targeted responses. The Region of the Americas reported the highest proportion of data on new hospitalizations, while the European Region led in reporting new ICU admissions.
SARS-CoV-2 Variants
The emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants continues to be a focal point of concern. The designation of JN.1, a sub-lineage of the BA.2.86 Omicron variant, as a separate variant of interest (VOI) is indicative of the ongoing evolution of the virus. JN.1's rapid increase in prevalence prompted its reclassification, with the overall global public health risk currently assessed as low.
Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants. The WHO emphasizes the need for continuous monitoring and updates, particularly with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which could potentially increase the burden of respiratory infections.
Severity Indicators
A closer look at severity indicators, such as the ICU-to-hospitalization ratio and death-to-hospitalization ratio, provides insights into the impact of COVID-19. The declining trends in these ratios since the peak in July 2021 suggest a decreasing proportion of new hospitalizations requiring intensive care, coupled with a lower mortality risk among hospitalized individuals.
However, caution is warranted in directly attributing these trends to intrinsic changes in the virus, as multiple factors contribute. Increases in infection-derived or vaccine-derived immunity, improvements in early diagnosis and clinical care, reduced strain on health systems, and other factors may collectively contribute to these trends.
Geographic Spread and Prevalence of Variants
Global sequencing data reveals intriguing dynamics, with a decline in reported SARS-CoV-2 sequences in the most recent 28-day period. This decline raises questions about its significance in relation to the concurrent increase in new cases. The WHO acknowledges the challenges posed by declining rates of testing and sequencing globally, emphasizing the need for sustained efforts in monitoring the variant landscape.
The WHO is actively tracking several variants of interest (VOIs) and variants under monitoring (VUMs). Notably, JN.1 is rapidly gaining prevalence, prompting its reclassification as a separate VOI. Despite challenges in estimating the severity impact of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, there are currently no reported laboratory or epidemiological findings indicating any association between VOIs/VUMs and increased disease severity.
WHO's Strategic Response
The WHO's Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard has undergone updates and adaptations to support the transition from an emergency response to longer-term disease management. The strategic preparedness and response plan, outlined in May 2023, guides these adaptations, ensuring sustained infrastructure and capabilities in member states.
In conclusion, the WHO's latest update presents a multifaceted view of the global COVID-19 scenario. The surge in new cases, regional variations, concerns about emerging variants, and the ongoing need for strategic response collectively highlight the continued challenges in managing the pandemic. As the world navigates through these complexities, adherence to preventive measures, vaccination efforts, and robust public health infrastructure remain critical in mitigating the impact of COVID-19. The global community must remain vigilant and agile in responding to the evolving nature of the pandemic to safeguard public health and well-being.
The WHO COVID-19 epidemiological update can be found here:
For the latest COVID-19 News, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.


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