Covid-19 News: Live updates on masks, cases and vaccines
Covid-19 News: Live updates on masks, cases and vaccines

Covid-19 News: Live updates on masks, cases and vaccines

Credit…Kieran Kesner for The New York Times

The global outlook for the pandemic continues to brighten, with the spread of the once-undulating virus steadily declining, from the United States to the Philippines. New cases fell 16 percent last week, according to new data from the World Health Organization released Tuesday.

The deaths fell by 10 percent, as a continuation of the downward trends the agency reported in the previous week.

As of Tuesday, the daily average number of cases was around 1.5 million, down 27 percent from two weeks ago, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Not all countries experienced improvements. The WHO Western Pacific reported a 32 percent increase in new weekly cases. Despite high vaccination rates in China and Vietnam, new cases have increased rapidly over the past two weeks. And in South Korea, cases have risen to their highest level.

Vaccine coverage around the world has increased. Vaccine supply and supply restrictions have been improved, WHO officials said at a Wednesday press conference, adding that 56 percent of the global population is now fully vaccinated. More than 10 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to Our world in data.

Leaders of countries and municipalities have interpreted the fall in cases and deaths as a signal that life may return to normal in the near future. In recent weeks, pandemic restrictions, such as mask mandates governing public spaces and schools, have fallen away in many communities.

But the strain on mental health has been steep and the gaps in care continue, the WHO said in a report on Wednesday. The agency found that in the first year of the pandemic, depression and anxiety had increased by 25 percent. The data represented “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.

“This is a wake-up call for all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting the mental health of their peoples,” he added.

The report mentioned a long list of stressors that exacerbate mental health problems, including social isolation, loneliness, fear of infection, financial coercion, relatives’ suffering and death and grief after death. While people with pre-existing mental disorders were not predisposed to contracting the virus, they were more likely to be hospitalized, become seriously ill, and die if infected, the data suggested.

The pandemic has also disproportionately affected the mental health of young people and women, the report said.

And pregnant woman have been particularly vulnerable, according to WHO officials. Over the past two years, more than 365,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported among pregnant women in America, according to data from the Pan American Health Organizationa branch of the WHO More than 3,000 of them died.

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