The World Health Organization reported a 43 percent spike in deaths from COVID-19 globally last week, while the number of cases continued to fall worldwide.
In its weekly epidemiological report, the WHO said 45,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in the week ending March 27, up from 33,000 the week before. That spike follows a week in which deaths declined by 23 percent.
The agency said the increase in deaths is likely driven by changes in the definition of COVID-19 deaths in nations in the Americas such as Chile and the United States, and by retrospective adjustments reported from India in Southeast Asia.
As an example, Chile had the highest number of new deaths, reporting 11,858, a leap of 1,710 percent from the previous week. The United States saw a smaller but still significant increase of 5,367 new deaths, an increase of 8 percent.
While India saw 4,525 of new deaths; it represented an increase of 619 percent. The WHO said those deaths included numbers from Maharashtra state, which initially were not included in last week’s COVID-19 death toll.
While the number of new cases overall fell globally, three European countries -- Germany, Italy and France -- all saw an increase in new cases from the previous week. While Germany and Italy reported increases of two and six percent respectively, France reported 845,119 new cases – a increase of 45 percent.
The WHO has said repeatedly that COVID-19 case counts are likely a vast underestimate of the coronavirus’ prevalence. The agency also expressed concern that many countries in recent weeks announced plans to drop their comprehensive testing programs and other surveillance measures. They said doing so will cripple efforts to accurately track the spread of the virus.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.