Europe, Americas Lead Globe in New COVID Cases, 1B Vaccines Administered Worldwide: WHO

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the two regions with the highest rates of new COVID-19 cases last week were Europe and the Americas, the Associated Press reported.

Worldwide, the U.S. saw the biggest number of new cases with more than 580,000. However, that rate still represented a decline of 11 percent, the U.N. health agency reported.

WHO released the numbers as part of its weekly assessment of the pandemic. The agency also said Europe had a 7 percent rise in new coronavirus cases last week, the only region in the world where cases increased.

There were about 2.7 million new COVID-19 cases and more than 46,000 deaths last week worldwide, WHO reported, numbers similar to the ones it reported the previous week.

Britain, Russia and Turkey accounted for the most cases in Europe, and WHO warned that uneven vaccine uptake posed a threat to the continent.

Africa and the Western Pacific saw the biggest drop in COVID-19 cases for the week, with infections falling by about 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively. WHO noted the number of deaths in Africa declined by about one-quarter, even though the continent has severe shortage of vaccines.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

London commuters
WHO said Europe and the Americas had the highest amount of new COVID-19 cases worldwide last week. Above, commuters are seen wearing face coverings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in a Transport for London underground train station in London on October 20, 2021. Getty

For the third consecutive week, coronavirus cases jumped in Europe, with about 1.3 million new cases. More than half of countries in the region reported a rise in their COVID-19 numbers, WHO said. Britain and Russia each reported about a 15 percent increase in new cases.

In a statement Wednesday, WHO's Europe office said 1 billion coronavirus vaccines have now been administered across the continent and described uneven vaccine uptake as "the region's biggest enemy in the fight against COVID-19."

In the past week, Russia has repeatedly broken new daily records for COVID-19 cases and the number of infections in the U.K. has surged to levels not seen since mid-July.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday backed a Cabinet proposal to keep Russian workers home for a week in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Russian officials have struggled to vaccinate the population but due to vaccine skepticism, only about 32 percent of people have been immunized despite the availability of its Sputnik V vaccine. It has by far the largest virus death toll in Europe, with more than 225,000 deaths.

Although the head of Britain's National Health Service has urged the government to introduce stricter COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing and the faster vaccination of children, politicians have so far demurred.

Medics Russia
Medics wear special suits to protect against coronavirus as they treat a patient with coronavirus at an ICU at the Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52 in Moscow, Russia, on October 19, 2021. AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko