(AP) — The World Health Organization chief on Wednesday said a nearly 90% drop in recent COVID-19 deaths globally compared to nine months ago provides “cause for optimism,” but still urged vigilance against the pandemic as variants continue to crop up.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that last week just over 9,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus were reported to the WHO.
In February of this year, he said, weekly deaths had topped 75,000 globally.
“We have come a long way, and this is definitely causing for optimism. But we continue to call on all governments, communities and individuals to remain vigilant,” he said at a virtual news conference from the WHO’s Geneva headquarters.
“Almost 10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many for a disease that can be prevented and treated.”
The WHO chief said testing and sequencing rates remain low globally, vaccination gaps between rich and poor countries are still wide, and new variants continue to proliferate.
The UN health agency said the tally of newly registered COVID-19 cases worldwide came in at over 2.1 million for the week ending Sunday, down 15% from the previous week.
The number of weekly deaths fell 10% compared to a week earlier.
Overall, the WHO has reported 629 million cases and 6.5 million deaths linked to the pandemic.