The World Health Organization says that globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased last week, with Europe reporting the largest rise in infections for the fifth consecutive week.
In its epidemiological report for the week ending October 31, the WHO says the world saw a three percent increase in new cases, led by Europe, with the highest increase of six percent, followed by the Americas with a three percent climb and the western Pacific with a two percent increase.
The WHO report indicates the rest of the world's regions saw decreases in cases, with the eastern Mediterranean area reporting the largest decrease with 12 percent and Africa and Southeast Asia dropping by nine percent each.
Russia's ongoing COVID-19 surge contributed to Europe's high number of new cases. The nation's state coronavirus task force Wednesday reported 40,443 new confirmed cases and 1,189 deaths, both new records for daily totals since the beginning of the pandemic. It marks the fifth time in seven days Russia has set a record for new daily cases.
Meanwhile, the WHO also announced Wednesday it has approved the COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin for emergency use. Covaxin is the first Indian-made vaccine to be cleared.
In a statement, WHO says its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) reviewed the two-dose vaccine and recommended it for use in those groups 18 and older. SAGE found Covaxin to be 78 percent efficient against COVID-19 symptoms of any severity, 14 or more days after the second dose.
The WHO advisory group found the vaccine to be extremely suitable for low- and middle-income countries due to easy storage requirements. The approval also allows the vaccine to be included in the WHO-managed vaccine cooperative COVAX for global distribution.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.