(Reuters) – Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO said on Tuesday, warning nations to remain vigilant against the virus.
After more than a month of decline, COVID cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China’s Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak.
A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 sublineage, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.
“These increase are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we’re seeing are just the tip of the iceberg,” WHO’s head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
Low vaccination rates in some countries, driven partly by a “huge amount of misinformation” also explained the rise, WHO officials said.
New infections jumped by 8% globally compared to the previous week, with 11 million new cases and just over 43,000 new deaths reported from March 7-13. It is the first rise since the end of January.