The Covid-19 pandemic continued its advance around the world this week, led by southern Africa where the highly contagious Omicron strain was first reported.
Cases rocketed more than sevenfold in Zimbabwe, although they fell in parts of Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
Here is the global state of play based on an AFP database:
The number of new daily coronavirus cases rose by 3% globally to 610,000, according to an AFP tally to Thursday.
It was the eighth successive weekly increase.
Surge in southern Africa
Africa saw infections more than double by 113%, driven mainly by South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The epidemic also surged in the US/Canada zone, where the number of cases increased by almost a quarter. They were was also up slightly in Oceania, increasing 3%.
Elsewhere the number of cases mostly fell.
They declined by 4% in Europe, by 5% in the Middle East and by 7% in the Latin America/Caribbean zone. The situation remained unchanged in Asia.
The confirmed cases only reflect a fraction of the actual number of infections, with varying counting practices and levels of testing in different countries.
Seven-fold rise in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, cases soared by 646% despite tough restrictions, while South Africa (up 195%) saw by far the biggest rises in the number of cases.
Behind them came South Korea (36% more cases), and France and Denmark, which both saw 29% increases.
The Netherlands saw the biggest drop of 57% in new cases, followed by Austria (46% less), Singapore (42% less), Hungary (24% less) and Serbia (23% less).
US still has most cases…
The US remained by far the country with the biggest number of new cases, with 120,800 per day, an increase of 24%.
It was followed by Germany, where cases decreased by 5% to 55,000 and France with 47,500 new cases, an increase of 29%.
On a per-capita basis the country with the most new cases this week was Slovakia, which recorded 1,099 per 100,000 inhabitants. Slovakia nevertheless eased its anti-Covid curbs on Friday, reopening shops in the run-up to Christmas.
It was followed by the neighbouring Czech Republic with 982 cases and Belgium 967 cases per 100,000 people. One percent of these three countries’ populations tested positive this week.
… and most deaths
The US also mourned the most deaths, with an average of 1,281 per day, followed by Russia (1,195) and India (627).
At a global level there was a 1% increase in the number of fatalities to 7,561 per day.