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COVID cases surge nearly 18% globally as omicron spreads

COVID cases are rising again around the world, even as vaccines have greatly reduced hospitalizations and deaths.

More than 4.1 million cases were reported worldwide last week, 18% more than the previous week, according to the World Health Organization.

“This pandemic is changing, but it is not over,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

His concern, he said, is that countries have lax in tracking cases and transmission, even as the most vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and health care workers, remain unvaccinated.

More than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, officials said, but in poor countries the average immunization rate is only about 13%.

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“If rich countries are vaccinating children as young as 6 months of age and planning to do more rounds of vaccination, it is incomprehensible to suggest that low-income countries should not vaccinate and stimulate those most at risk,” Ghebreyesus said.

Cases in the US rose slightly, with a seven-day rolling daily average of 108,505 new cases through Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New York, the trends are the same, even after Mayor Adams lowered the city’s COVID alert level to “medium” last week.

“Day after day, New Yorkers are stepping up and doing their part, and thanks to our collective efforts we are winning the battle against COVID-19,” he said at the time. “We are grateful to New Yorkers for their continued care and vigilance as we make our way to the other side of this wave.”

However, those numbers don’t include positive results from at-home tests, which the city doesn’t track and are much more popular due to widespread availability.

Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which account for much of the global spread of COVID, are less rampant in New York City, accounting for about 45% of cases, according to NYC Health.

Health officials continue to urge people to stay covered with masks, get tested often, especially after travel or large gatherings, and stay home if you feel sick.

Earlier this month, the CDC finally approved vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years, now covering all but the youngest population.

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