The coronavirus pandemic appears to be accelerating worldwide, with new cases soaring last week to a new seven-day high of almost 2 million even as new deaths decreased, World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show.
In its latest global update late on Monday, the UN health body said 1,998,897 new cases of the novel coronavirus had been registered around the world during the week ending on September 20.
That marked a 6-percent increase from the week before and “the highest number of reported cases in a single week since the beginning of the epidemic,” the WHO said.
Since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in China late last year, it has infected more than 31 million people globally, while nearly 965,000 have died, according to the latest figures released on Tuesday.
Nearly all regions of the world saw new cases rise last week, WHO said, with Europe and the Americas seeing new cases swell by 11 and 10 percent respectively.
In countries such as the United Kingdom and Spain, restrictions were announced this week in fears of another outbreak as cases surged back to levels seen earlier in the year.
The United States continued to have the highest number of cases in the world, with more than 6.8 million infections, followed by India and Brazil.
Only Africa, which has remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic, dodged the upward trend, reporting a 12-percent drop in new cases from a week earlier.
Even as cases shot up across much of the world, the number of deaths is going down, the WHO statistics showed.
Last week, some 37,700 new deaths linked to the virus were recorded worldwide, marking a decline of 10 percent compared with the previous week.
The decline was driven by the Americas, long the hardest-hit region, where new deaths were 22 percent lower than a week earlier, and by Africa where new deaths dropped 16 percent.
The Americas, however, still account for half of all reported cases and 55 percent of global deaths. The drop in new deaths in the region was driven mainly by decreases in Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The US and Brazil continued to report the highest number of deaths, each reporting more than 5,000 new deaths in the past week.
Meanwhile, parts of Europe, experiencing a second wave of infections, saw the new death count shoot up to more than 4,000 for the seven-day period, a 27-percent hike compared with the week before.
France, Russia, Spain and Britain reported the highest number of new cases in the past week, while Hungary and Denmark saw the highest relative increase in deaths.
Britain continues to count the highest number of cumulative deaths on the continent at nearly 42,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Record rise in weekly COVID-19 cases, but deaths down: WHO Wire Services/ Al Jazeera.