The Covid-19 pandemic slowed down for the third week in a row and new cases are now at their lowest level since the end of October, with new infections falling by half in South Africa, according to a specialised AFP database.
Here is the state of play worldwide:
Fewer than half a million per day
The number of new daily cases dipped below the half-million mark for the first time since late October, standing at 493,000, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.
New infections dropped by 13% over the week, after reaching a record 725,000 in mid-January.
Nearly every area of the world saw a slackening off, with new cases decreasing in Africa by 27%, by 17% in the US and Canada, by 12% in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean and by 2% in Asia.
The number of new cases picked up slightly by 4% in the Middle East, however, while there were only 14 cases per day (43% more) in Oceania.
The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, as different countries have different counting practices and levels of testing.
The biggest decrease was in South Africa, the continent’s worst-hit country, where the number of new cases dropped by 49%, at 4,100 new cases per day, confirming a strong deceleration that started the previous week.
The country, where a more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected, in late 2020 saw an upsurge in cases, which led it to impose a curfew in late December.
Lithuania has the next big drop at -37%, (700 cases per day), Mexico (-35%, 10,600), Japan (31% fewer, 3,000), Panama (-31%, 1,100) and Portugal (30% fewer or 9,100 cases).
Malaysia is the country where the epidemic is picking up most speed, with 30% more, or 4,800 new cases per day, among the countries which have registered more than 1,000 daily cases over the past week.
Jordan follows with 27% more, or 1,100 new cases, Peru (23%, 6,500), Iraq (21%, 1,000) and Turkey (16% more, or 7,400 cases).
US still has most cases, deaths
The US again had by far the highest number of new cases, with 133,500 per day on average, a 17% decrease over the previous week.
Brazil follows with 48,200, or -7% and Spain (29,800, -16%).
Then come the UK with 21,200, or 26% fewer and France (20,600, 1% more).
On a per-capita basis, Portugal remains the country with the highest number of infections, at 622 cases per 100,000 people.
The US also again registered the most deaths over the past week, with 3,279 per day on average, followed by Mexico (1,111), Brazil (1,035), the UK (1,018), Germany (690), Russia (507) and France (450).