Last week was the worst for COVID cases for the entire pandemic, says WHO

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3 min read
 In this photo illustration the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is seen on a screen of pc and a WHO coronavirus cases map displayed.
The number of the COVID-19 coronavirus confirmed cases in the United States exceeded one million and exceeded three million in the world, according of COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. (Photo by Pavlo Gonchar / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Sipa images)

Last week saw the highest number of recorded COVID cases across the world for the entire pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that coronavirus have been rising worldwide for eight weeks running. 

It comes as countries like Brazil and India battle with huge surges in cases and deaths while new variants continue to emerge and spread worldwide.

Tedros told the conference: “Last week, new cases of COVID-19 increased for the eighth week in a row, with more than 5.2 million cases reported - the most in a single week so far.”

Read: COVID deaths in UK hit single figures for first time since before second wave

Deaths have risen for the fifth week straight with more than three million now reported to WHO, he said.

"It took nine months to reach one million deaths; four months to reach two million, and three months to reach three million," Tedros added.

“Big numbers can make us numb but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”

Tedros also warned that COVID is spreading at an "alarming rate" among people aged 25 to 59, possibly due to contagious new variants and increased socialising. 

Watch: Worldwide coronavirus death toll 'passes three million mark'

The head of WHO also stressed the importance of vaccine equity and social distancing measures to help bring the pandemic out of control.

He said: "We have the tools to bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months if we apply them consistently and equitably.”

Global climate change activist Greta Thunberg, joining the daily WHO news briefing from Sweden as a guest, also criticised "vaccine nationalism”.

Thunberg said it was unethical that rich countries were prioritising their younger citizens for vaccination ahead of vulnerable groups in developing countries.

She added that whereas one in four people in high-income countries had now been vaccinated against COVID-19, only one in more than 500 people in poorer countries had received a shot.

"Vaccine nationalism is what is running the vaccine distribution," she said.

The UK has vaccinated more than 30 million people and the daily death toll has now fallen to single figures for the first time in nine months.

However, other countries are in the middle of the worst surge they've seen in the pandemic so far.

But Brazil recorded 42,980 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the 24 hours, along with 1,657 deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest health ministry figures released on Sunday.

The country has now registered more than 13.9 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 373,335.

Last week, one in four coronavirus deaths worldwide were happening in Brazil. 

It comes as the P.1 variant, which is more infectious, transmissible and pathogenic has been sweeping through Latin America's largest nation.

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Meanwhile, daily COVID-19 cases in India jumped a record 273,810 on Monday as the country battles with a deadly wave of the virus.

Deaths rose a record 1,619 to 178,769 in the country and infections have passed 15 million, the world's second-highest total after the US.

Hospitals also have a shortage of beds, oxygen and key medicines.

Travel from India to the UK has been banned for non-UK and non-Irish citizens from 4am on Friday after the country was added to the "red list".

It comes as a new India variant, which has two new significant mutations in the spike protein of the virus, has been spreading through the country, has been detected in the UK.

Watch: Brazilian P1 variant may spread more easily and could evade immunity