Reported COVID-19 deaths around the globe have increased by 35 per cent over the past four weeks, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, warning that risk factors are set to increase as cold weather approaches.
In the last week alone, 15,000 people died from COVID-19 globally, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In Canada, 263 people died from COVID-19 from the week of July 31 to Aug. 6, according to Health Canada.
“We’re all tired of this virus and tired of the pandemic. But the virus is not tired of us,” Tedros said, speaking during a press conference Wednesday.
“With colder weather approaching in the northern hemisphere and people spending more time indoors, the risks for more intense transmission and hospitalization will only increase in the coming months.”
In Canada, COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending in the right direction — though thousands still remain hospitalized as a result of contracting the virus.
As of Aug. 8, there were 4,905 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a slight decline from the 5,094 in hospital beds the week before.
COVID-19 patients in the ICU dropped to 264 from 279, but the number who were mechanically vented increased to 103 from 101.
Since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 14, 2020, just over 50 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths were among the unvaccinated.
Despite Canada’s cases trending in the right direction, Tedros said the global picture paints a grim story about the future of COVID-19.
“There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus, but we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.
“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves and protect others.”
In the last 24 hours, over 460,000 COVID-19 cases were confirmed worldwide, according to the WHO’s dashboard. Omicron’s BA.5 subvariant remains the dominant variant, Tedros added, but many countries have not been sending genome sequencing of their cases with the same regularity they once did.
According to Tedros, the number of sequences shared per week has fallen by 90 per cent since the beginning of the year — and the number of countries sharing sequences has dropped by 75 per cent. This, he said, makes it “so much harder” to understand how the virus “might be changing.”
And while COVID-19 remains present in Canada and globally, Tedros reminded the world that “none of us is helpless.”
“Please get vaccinated if you are not, and if you need a booster, get one,” he said.
“Wear a mask when you can’t distance. And try to avoid crowds, especially indoors.”