New pandemic cases reduced by half since January
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a sharp slowdown in the number of new cases, which have been cut in half from a peak in early January, according to data gathered by AFP.
Here is the state of play worldwide:
Fewer than 400,000 cases per day
The number of new daily cases this past week dipped to its lowest level in four months, standing at 362,000, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.
New infections dropped by 12 percent over the week, after reaching a record 743,000 in the first half of January.
Since that peak the number of new cases worldwide has dropped by half (51 percent less). It is the sharpest and most prolonged decline since the start of the pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, as different countries have different counting practices and levels of testing.
Middle East exception
The only region to see an acceleration of the pandemic was the Middle East, where new cases increased by 11 percent.
Every other area of the world saw a slackening off, with cases down 28 percent in the United States and Canada, nine percent in Africa, Asia and Europe, and seven percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The biggest decrease was in Portugal, where the number of new cases dropped by 51 percent, at 2,100 new cases per day.
Bolivia had the next big drop at minus 41 percent, (800 cases per day), Spain (minus 37 percent, 11,500), the United States (28 percent fewer, 72,800) and Colombia (minus 26 percent, 4,700).
Iraq for the second consecutive week is the country where the epidemic is picking up most speed, with 62 percent more, or 2,900 new cases per day.
Iraq has re-imposed partial lockdown measures after detecting the UK-based strain of the virus, which is thought to be more contagious than earlier forms.
Jordan follows with 44 percent more, or 2,100 new cases, then Hungary (23 percent, 1,700), Poland (18 percent, 6,300) and Austria (15 percent more, or 1,500 cases).
The ten sharpest rises of the week were recorded in the Middle East and Europe.
US still has most cases, deaths
Although seeing a major decline in cases, the US remains the country with by far the highest number of new infections, with 72,800 per day on average, a 28 percent decrease over the previous week.
Brazil follows with a stable 45,200, and France (18,600, minus two percent).
On a per-capita basis, the Czech Republic recorded the highest number of infections, at 544 cases per 100,000 people.
The US also again registered the most deaths over the past week, with 2,566 per day on average, followed by Brazil (1,037), Mexico (982), the UK (551) and Russia (463).
© 2021 AFP