WHO says Covid pandemic is growing ‘exponentially’ at more than 4.4 million new cases a week

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Bochnia Hospital paramedics wear protective equipment as they transport a patient suffering of COVID-19 to a local hospital on March 17, 2021 in Bochnia, Poland.
Omar Marques | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic is now “growing exponentially” at more than 4.4 million new Covid-19 cases a week over the last two months.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the agency’s technical lead for Covid-19, said “we’re in a critical point of the pandemic,” as some countries ease restrictions even as new cases per week are more than eight times higher than a year ago.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic where we have proven control measures. It is the time right now where everyone has to take stock and have a reality check of what we need to be doing,” she said during a press briefing. “Vaccines and vaccinations are coming online, but they aren’t here yet in every part of the world.”

Covid-19 cases climbed by 9% across the globe last week — the seventh-consecutive weekly increase — and deaths jumped 5%, she said, asking governments to support their citizens in implementing pandemic safety measures.

Last month, WHO officials warned of a steady rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in recent weeks, urging people to stick with mask mandates and social distancing rules as the world enters a critical phase of the pandemic.

The virus is “stronger, it’s faster” with the emergence of new variants that spread more easily and are more deadly than the original wild strain of the virus, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s emergencies program, said March 31. “We’re all struggling” with and sick of restrictive lockdowns, he said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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