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Credit…Kieran Kesner for The New York Times
The global outlook for the pandemic continues to brighten, with the spread of the once-surging virus steadily declining, from the United States to the Philippines. New cases fell by 16 percent last week, according to new data from the World Health Organization released on Tuesday.
Deaths dropped by 10 percent, in a continuation of the downward trends reported by the agency the previous week.
As of Tuesday, the daily average number of cases was about 1.5 million, a 27 percent decrease from two weeks ago, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Not all countries saw improvement. The W.H.O.’s Western Pacific region reported a 32 percent increase in new weekly cases. Despite high vaccination rates in China and Vietnam, new cases have multiplied rapidly over the past two weeks. And in South Korea, cases have climbed to their highest levels.
Vaccine coverage around the world has been rising. Vaccine supply and delivery constraints have improved, W.H.O. officials said at a Wednesday news conference, adding that 56 percent of the global population is now fully vaccinated. More than 10 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to Our World in Data.
Leaders of countries and municipalities have interpreted the decline in cases and deaths as a signal that life could return to normal in the near future. In recent weeks, pandemic restrictions such as mask mandates governing public spaces and schools have fallen away in many communities.
But the toll on mental health has been steep and gaps in care persist, the W.H.O. said in a report on Wednesday. The agency found that in the pandemic’s first year, depression and anxiety had increased by 25 percent. The data represented “just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general.
“This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health,” he added.
The report named a long list of stressors aggravating mental health issues, including social isolation, loneliness, fear of infection, financial duress, the suffering and death of loved ones and grief after bereavement. While people with pre-existing mental health disorders were not predisposed to contracting the virus, they were more likely to be hospitalized, become severely ill and die if infected, the data suggested.
The pandemic has also disproportionately affected the mental health of young people and women, the report said.
And pregnant women have been particularly vulnerable, according to W.H.O. officials. Over the past two years, more than 365,000 coronavirus cases have been reported among pregnant women in the Americas, according to data from the Pan American Health Organization, a division of the W.H.O. More than 3,000 of them died.
March 3, 2022
An earlier version of this post misstated the number of vaccine doses administered worldwide. It is more than 10 billion, not more than 10 million.