New COVID-19 cases are now at their lowest level since the end of October 2020, with a specialized AFP database showing new infections fell by half in South Africa and the corona virus pandemic slowing down for the third consecutive week. Here is the state of play worldwide:
Fewer than half a million per day: The number of new daily cases dipped below the half-million mark for the first time since late October, standing at 493,000, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.
New infections dropped by 13% over the week, after reaching a record 725,000 in mid-January.
Nearly every area of the world saw a slackening off, with new cases decreasing 27% in Africa, 17% in the United States and Canada, 12% in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, and 2% in Asia.
The number of new cases picked up slightly, by 4%, in the Middle East, however, while there were only 14 cases per day (43% more) in Oceania.
The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, as different countries have different counting practices and levels of testing.
The biggest decrease was in South Africa — the continent’s worst-hit country — where the number of new cases dropped by 49%, at 4,100 new cases per day, confirming a strong deceleration that started the previous week.
The country, where a more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected, in late 2020 saw an upsurge in cases, which led it to impose a curfew in late December.
Lithuania has the next big drop at minus 37%, (700 cases per day), Mexico (minus 35%, 10,600), Japan (31% fewer, 3,000), Panama (minus 31%, 1,100), and Portugal (30% fewer or 9,100 cases).
Malaysia is the country where the epidemic is picking up most speed, with 30% more, or 4,800 new cases per day, among the countries which have registered more than 1,000 daily cases over the past week.
Jordan follows with 27% more, or 1,100 new cases, Peru (23%, 6,500), Iraq (21%, 1,000), and Turkey (16% more, or 7,400 cases).