Covid-19 cases drop, led by Europe but infections increase in Africa

The pandemic slowed for the fourth week in a row around the world, led by an improvement in Europe, despite a worrying increase in cases in the United Kingdom.

Here is the global state of play according to a specialised AFP database.

13 percent drop 

The number of new daily Covid-19 cases around the world dropped by 13 percent to 554 200, according to an AFP toll to Thursday.

The number of daily cases had fallen by half over a month at the beginning of the year to around 355 000, but started to spiral higher again on 20 February.

The number of cases then began to drop four weeks ago.

Europe leads improvement 

Europe accounted for the biggest slow down, with its number of cases this week falling by almost a quarter, or 24 percent.

The biggest drop was in Sweden by 51 percent to 1, 00 new cases per day. Poland followed with 47 percent less, Germany 41 percent less, Ukraine 33 percent less and Switzerland 33 percent less.

The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, with different countries also having varying counting practices and levels of testing.

The pandemic also slowed in Asia with 19 percent less cases, and in the US and Canada where they decreased by 15 percent.

But Africa bucked the downward trend seeing cases increase by 10 percent, while the Middle East saw five percent more and Latin America and the Caribbean four percent more.

The number of new cases decreased by three fifths in Oceania, with the few cases centred mainly in Papua New Guinea.

Main spikes 

Despite the overall improvement in Europe, the UK was the country where the pandemic picked up most speed, with 74 percent more cases or 2 600 per day.

The Covid-19 variant which emerged in India, which is feared to be particularly contagious, accounted for between half and three quarters of the new cases, according to the UK government.

Bahrein followed with 55 percent more cases, Bangladesh 50 percent more, Kuwait 46 percent more and Malaysia 43 percent more.

India has most new cases 

India, where the number of new cases has slowed by 23 percent this week, according to official data, remained by far the country with the highest figure at 228 100 cases per day.

It is widely believed that its death and infection rate is largely under reported.

Brazil followed with 64 000 new cases per day, a drop of three percent, Argentina (30 900, five percent more), the US (22 500, 23 percent less) and Colombia 20 300, (a 30 percent increase).

On a per capita basis, the countries that recorded the most cases this week remained the Maldives with 2 042 per 100 000 inhabitants, the Seychelles (1 404) and Bahrain (1 148).

Worryingly, the three are among the most advanced in terms of vaccination, having respectively administered a mix of different vaccines to more than half of their populations.

And the most deaths 

India also continued to mourn the most deaths, with 4 016 per day, followed by Brazil 1 797, the US (661), Colombia (494) and Argentina (491).

At the world level the number of deaths dropped by six percent this week to 11 563 per day.

However, the World Health Organization believes that as many as three times more people have died because of the pandemic than official figures suggest.

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