Weekly COVID-19 deaths on the rise in several European, African countries

The spike in weekly deaths is significantly large in smaller European countries, according to Worldometer;
Weekly COVID-19 deaths on the rise in several European, African countries

The weekly death toll due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has risen sharply in several European countries, adding to the stress that the new Omicron variant of concern has caused.

Deaths nearly doubled (92 per cent rise in Denmark), followed by 54 per cent in Spain; 32 per cent in Germany; 27 per cent in Slovakia; 25 per cent in France; 23 per cent in Austria; 17 per cent in Hungary.

Weekly COVID-19 deaths and cases have gone up 39 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively in the Netherlands, according to Worldometer. Globally, cases have increased by 1 per cent and deaths have reduced by 5 per cent in the last seven days, as on December 1, 2021.

The continent’s overall toll, however, decreased 1 per cent, according to private data aggregator Worldometer.

The Netherlands’ health agency, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RVIM), announced the detection of Omicron in two samples taken on November 19 and 23.

This was a week prior to South Africa’s intimation to the World Health Organization (WHO) about a highly mutated variant that was declared a variant of concern (VOC) by the international body on November 26.

“In a special polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the samples showed an abnormality in the spike protein. This raised the concern that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 may be involved,” the Dutch agency noted.

Omicron’s presence was confirmed by RVIM on November 29. It still remains unclear if these two patients have any travel history to South Africa.

This new information dramatically changes the current scenario where several countries have initiated travel restrictions or bans from South Africa and other southern African countries. However, data from Worldometer shows a spike in the percentage change of weekly deaths.

The spike is significantly large in smaller countries — 140 per cent in Finland, 333 per cent in Luxembourg, 300 per cent in the Channel Islands, 100 per cent in Iceland, Malta and Andorra each. Meanwhile, it reduced by 15 per cent in the United Kingdom, 16 per cent in Ukraine, 36 per cent in Switzerland, 83 per cent in Norway and 95 per cent in Sweden.

In Africa, weekly deaths reduced by 0.7 per cent. But similar to Europe, several countries reported a dangerously steep incline. Sudan, Botswana, Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria reported a 200 per cent increase in deaths in the last seven days; Equatorial Guinea reported a 400 per cent increase. South Africa reported a 59 per cent increase and Réunion a 50 per cent rise.

Some countries have reported a decline. These include Libya (37 per cent), Tunisia (44 per cent), Morocco (47 per cent), Seychelles, Zambia, Senegal, Gambia and Madagascar (100 per cent each), Congo (70 per cent) and Somalia (73 per cent).

At a 64 per cent increase in the last seven days, cases have skyrocketed in African countries. South Africa reported a 309 per cent increase and Zimbabwe 354 per cent. Cameroon and Burkina Faso have reported the highest increase — 60,400 per cent and 48,600 per cent respectively.

In comparison, Europe has recorded a seven per cent increase in weekly cases, with France (61 per cent), Spain (44 per cent), Norway (50 per cent), Italy (25 per cent) and Portugal (29 per cent) accounting for a major share.

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