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India’s weekly incidence of new COVID-19 cases gradually easing: WHO epidemiological update

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Still highest weekly contributor in South-East Asia, WHO update links the rise in case numbers over past months to a concurrent expansion in India’s testing activity

WHO’s weekly epidemiological update, as of October 5, 2020, noted that India, reporting over 500000 new cases per week since late-August, again contributed the majority of incident cases in the WHO’s South-East Asia Region (91 per cent) and globally (27 per cent) last week, bringing cumulative counts in the country to an excess of 6.5 million cases and 100 000 deaths (10 per cent of the global total). The update is based on data as received by WHO from national authorities, as of October 4, 10 am CEST.

The update links the rise in India’s case numbers over the past months to a concurrent expansion in testing activity, which has since stabilised at 7–8 million samples tested per week (or 5.2– 5.8 samples tested/1000 persons/week) in the past five weeks.

As per the data, the weekly incidence of new cases is gradually easing, falling to 403 new cases per 1 million population (556 841 cases) this past week, after peaking three weeks ago, while test positivity rates fell marginally to 7.1 per cent

A gradual decline in case and deaths incidence in the South-East Asia Region continued during the past week but it still contributes almost a third (n=614 502, 30 per cent) of new cases reported globally in the past week. At the same time, current weekly case incidence (304 per 1 million population) is markedly lower than that which is currently observed in the Americas and Europe.

Global stats

Globally, the weekly epidemiological report shows that the number of new cases per week has remained stable at 2 million for the past three weeks (Figure 1), with the cumulative total of over 34.8 million cases. Over 1 million deaths have now been reported globally, of which the majority were reported in the Region of the Americas (55 per cent), followed by Europe (23 per cent).

In the past week, the regions of the Americas, South-East Asia, and Europe account for 91 per cent of new cases. Five countries (namely India, the United States of America, Brazil, Argentina and France) reported 60 per cent of new global cases this past week, while Israel registered the highest incidence (3717 new cases per 1 million population).

Globally, the highest percentage of cases have been reported in the 25-39 age group, with approximately 50 per cent of cases in the 25-64 age group. However, the percentage of deaths increases with age, and approximately 75 per cent of deaths are in those aged 65 years and above.

Although globally the number of new cases was similar to the number of cases in the previous week, there is considerable variation on a country- by-country basis. In several countries, the number of new cases is rising again, and in many (most notably within the European Region) the second wave is exceeding previous peaks; this can be partly attributed to enhancements in surveillance capacities over time. In other countries there is a gradual decline in new cases from earlier peaks in August, for example in Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

According to the report, in India and the Philippines, the number of new cases appear to have stabilised, but these countries are still reporting high numbers. There are also examples of countries that have consistently shown an increasing incidence as their first wave continues; these include Indonesia, Iraq, and Myanmar, although Indonesia is reporting a slight drop this week. South Africa and Australia are examples of countries that have successfully managed to reduce the number of new cases and have seen large reductions from earlier peaks.

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