More COVID-19 cases were reported worldwide last week than in any other seven-day period during the pandemic, according to new data published Tuesday by the World Health Organization.
Last week’s tally of 5.24 million new cases broke the previous record of 5.04 million new cases reported at the beginning of January.
Globally, new COVID-19 cases rose for the eighth consecutive week, and new COVID-19 deaths increased for the fifth consecutive week. More than 83,000 new deaths were reported, which is an 8% jump from the previous week.
The overall COVID-19 death toll surpassed 3 million last week, the WHO said. It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, then four months to surpass 2 million, and three months to pass 3 million, according to The New York Times.
All regions reported an increase in cases during the past week except for Europe, which saw a 3% decline, the WHO said. The largest increase continues to be reported by the Southeast Asia region, which is largely driven by a surge in infections in India.
India reported more than 314,800 cases on Thursday, breaking the worldwide record for the most infections recorded in a single day, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. set the previous record of more than 300,600 cases on Jan. 8.
India now accounts for nearly one-third of all new cases worldwide, the WHO said. The country’s total neared 16 million cases on Thursday, second only to the 31.8 million infections reported by the U.S. during the pandemic.
A large number of hospitals in India are reporting shortages of beds, medicines and oxygen, particularly in the capital region of New Delhi. On Wednesday, the New Delhi High Court ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals, the AP reported.
“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,” the court wrote. “Beg, borrow or steal, it is a national emergency.”
India reported the highest number of new cases last week with more than 1.4 million infections, which was a 64% increase, according to the WHO report. The U.S. reported the second-highest number with 477,000 new cases, which was a 2% increase. Brazil and Turkey also reported more than 400,000 new cases during the past week.
The global surge in cases is likely related to the emergence of COVID-19 variants, the WHO said, as well as easing of public health measures.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing, with global case and death incidence increasing at a concerning rate since mid-February 2021,” the WHO wrote in the report. “A third of the global cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths has been reported in the last three months alone, with weekly cases reaching similar levels as the previous peak in January 2021.”
World Health Organization: “Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19, April 20, 2021.”
The New York Times: “New coronavirus cases around the world reached a new weekly record, according to the W.H.O.”
The Associated Press, “Low on beds, oxygen, India adds global high 314K virus cases.”