Geneva, Switzerland | Tue, August 25, 2020 | 08:12 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread but the increase in cases and deaths has slowed worldwide, with the exception of Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. In its latest epidemiological update, released on Monday night, it said the Americas remained the worst-hit region, accounting for half of the newly identified cases and 62 per cent of the 39,240 deaths worldwide over the past week. More than 23.65 million people were confirmed to have been globally infected with the coronavirus and 811,895 died, according to a count from Reuters on Tuesday.

“For the week ending 23 August, more than 1.7 million new COVID-19 cases and 39,000 new deaths were confirmed to the WHO, a 4 percent decrease in the number of cases and (a 12 percent decrease) in the number of deaths compared to the previous week,” the WHO said. Southeast Asia, the second most affected country, recorded a 28 per cent jump in new cases and 15 per cent death, it said. India continues to record most cases but the virus is also rapidly spreading in Nepal.

In the eastern Mediterranean region of the WHO, the number of confirmed cases has increased by 4 percent, but the number of recorded deaths has decreased steadily over the past six weeks, said the WHO. Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan posted the highest rise in cases compared with the week before. The number of recorded cases and deaths across Africa decreased by 8% and 11% respectively over the past week, “primarily due to a decline in reported cases in Algeria, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa,” it said.

“In the European region, over the last three weeks, the number of cases reported has steadily increased,” it said. “Nevertheless, only a small decrease (1%) has been recorded in the last week, and the number of deaths has continued to decline across the world.” In the Western Pacific region of the WHO, the number of new cases has fallen by 5%, driven by less spread in Japan, Australia , Singapore, China and Vietnam. In cases, South Korea registered a 180% rise, “mainly due to an increase in cases involving religious gatherings.”

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