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Two years after the coronavirus first emerged, top officials with the UN health agency cautioned that it’s still too early to be reassured by initial data suggesting that omicron, the latest variant, leads to milder disease.

First reported last month in southern Africa, it is already the dominant variant in the United States and parts of Europe.

And after 92 of the WHO’s 194 member countries missed a target to vaccinate 40 per cent of their populations by the end of this year, director-general Tedros Adhanom urged everyone to make a “new year’s resolution” to get behind a campaign to vaccinate 70 per cent of countries’ populations by the beginning of July.

According to WHO’s figures, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide increased by 11 per cent last week compared with the previous week, with nearly 4.99 million newly reported from 20-26 December. New cases in Europe — which accounted for more than half of the total — were up 3 per cent while those in the Americas rose 39 per cent and there was a 7 per cent increase in Africa. The global gain followed a gradual increase since October.

The US has recorded 54,859,966 cases so far and more than 825,816 people have died from the virus in the country, the university data shows.

Brazil, which has been experiencing a new wave of cases since January, registered 22,295,621 cases as of Saturday and its Covid death toll rose to 619,367.

India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 34,861,579 on Saturday, as 22,775 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the federal health ministry’s latest data.

Besides, 406 more deaths were recorded since Friday morning, taking the death toll to 481,486, which is a steep rise in the number of deaths in a single day.

Situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh logged four more Covid deaths with 370 fresh infections in 24 hours till Saturday morning.

With the detection of the fresh cases after testing 15,074 samples, the daily-case positivity rate slightly declined to 2.43 per cent from Friday’s 2.74 per cent during the period, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

The fresh numbers reported on Saturday took the country’s total fatalities to 28,076 while the caseload mounted to 1,585,909.

Meanwhile, the mortality rate remained static at 1.77 per cent during the period.

Besides, the recovery rate declined to 97.69 per cent with the recovery of 203 more patients during the 24-hour period.

Bangladesh reported daily covid cases above 500 after two months. On 13 October, the country logged 518 new Covid cases with 17 deaths.

Meanwhile, three more Covid cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Bangladesh, raising the total tally to seven, according to GISAID, a global initiative on sharing all influenza data, shared the results on Wednesday.

On 9 December, Bangladesh again logged zero Covid death after nearly three weeks as the pandemic was apparently showing signs of easing.

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