Geneva, Mar 17: The World Health Organization reported there was a 10 per cent rise in new coronavirus cases globally last week, driven by surges in the Americas and Europe.
WHO said in its weekly update on the status of the global outbreak published on Wednesday,the worldwide number of new COVID-19 cases peaked in early January at nearly 5 million cases, but then dropped to about 2.5 million cases per week in mid-February.
The U.N. health agency noted that last week was the third consecutive week there was a global rise in new cases, after weeks of declining infections.
WHO said COVID-19 numbers in the Americas and Europe accounted for more than 80 per cent of all new cases and deaths in the last week.
In Europe, WHO said new confirmed cases rose by about 6 per cent while deaths have been consistently declining. It said the highest numbers were recorded in France, Italy and Poland.
The spike in cases comes as more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, have temporarily suspended their use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that it is linked to blood clots.
WHO and the European Medicines Agency have said there is no evidence to date the vaccine is linked to the blood clots and that its benefits continue to outweigh the risks of side effects.