Record number of COVID-19 infections reported globally in last 7 days

The highly transmissible Omicron variant has fueled a sharp rise in coronavirus cases this past week - around half have been picked up in Europe and 40% are from the Americas.

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CAPE TOWN - A record-high number of new COVID-19 infections have been reported globally.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that more than 15 million new coronavirus infections were diagnosed over the last seven days.

Johns Hopkins University data showed over 5 .5 million people worldwide had succumbed to the disease since it first emerged.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant has fueled a sharp rise in coronavirus cases this past week - around half have been picked up in Europe and 40% are from the Americas.

The World Health Organization's Maria Van Kerhove said that more than 43,000 deaths had been reported over this period.

"Treat this virus as seriously as it needs to be treated it's not to scare anybody but the narrative that it's the common cold is not true, the narrative that it's just mild it's not true we have to really fight against it. It's not the time to give up," Kerhove said.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency said that the spread of Omicron across the continent was pushing COVID-19 towards being an endemic disease that humans could live with.

But it added that it was still a pandemic for now.