NEW YORK (Agencies): The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded the alarm over a fresh wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the world. According to the UN health agency, there has been a 38% increase in COVID-19 cases but a significant 50% decrease in deaths over the past month.

From July 31 to August 27, more than 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases and over 1,800 related deaths were recorded worldwide, as revealed by the WHO in its weekly bulletin.

South Korea topped the list with the highest number of new cases (1,296,710) and deaths (596), followed by Italy with nearly 27,000 new cases and the UK with 26,000.

The Eastern Mediterranean region saw the largest surge in new cases at 113%, followed by the Western Pacific at 52% and the European Region at 39%. In contrast, Africa witnessed a 76% decline, and South-East Asia saw a 48% reduction in cases.

The WHO attributes this increase in cases to the “Eris” variant of the novel coronavirus, which is now the most widespread, accounting for 26% of sequences in the second week of August. The “Arturo” variant was found in 22.7% of sequences in 109 countries, while the “Kraken” variant was reported by 124 countries but appears to be receding.

Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been more than 770 million COVID-19 cases and over 6.9 million deaths reported worldwide.

Despite declaring an end to the “global health emergency” in May, the WHO is urging member states to maintain their anti-COVID-19 measures and infrastructure, including early warning systems, surveillance, variant tracking, clinical assistance, and vaccination boosters for high-risk groups.

The WHO’s weekly bulletin will now transition into monthly updates, reflecting the organization’s shift from emergency response to long-term “prevention, control, and management” of COVID-19. The next monthly update is scheduled for the end of September.

The novel coronavirus, initially detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, has since evolved into a global pandemic. Its exact origins and how it crossed into humans remain subjects of investigation and debate, with the WHO naming the disease COVID-19 in March 2020. Throughout the pandemic, many countries implemented lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccination campaigns, often met with varying degrees of public compliance and controversy.

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