Global COVID-19 cases fall alongside testing rates; deaths remain high, WHO says

Global COVID-19 cases are falling, though a drop in testing may be contributing to this trend, and the omicron subvariant continues to spread, Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the World Health Organization's COVID-19 technical lead, said during a Feb. 16 media briefing. 

In the week ending Feb. 13, the number of new cases confirmed worldwide was down 19 percent from the week prior, WHO data shows.

"We need to be careful about interpreting too much this downward trend," Dr. Van Kerkhove said. "Certainly, that's in the right direction, but it's likely that there's a large number of cases that we're missing."

Declining testing rates suggest the global case count may not reflect the virus's actual spread, according to Dr. Van Kerkhove. The "bigger concern right now" is that global deaths have been increasing for six consecutive weeks, she said.

At the same time, cases of the omicron subvariant BA.2 are "steadily increasing," the WHO said in a Feb. 15 report. As of Feb. 14, BA.2 was dominant in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Denmark, Guam, India, Montenegro, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines. Regionally, the Southeast Asia region had the highest prevalence of BA.2, while the Americas had the lowest. 


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