GENEVA: The World Health Organisation says the rate of increase of coronavirus cases held steady over the last week, though its African, Western Pacific and European regions all reported gains.
At the same time, new deaths globally linked to COVID-19 fell 10 per cent.
The UN health agency, in its latest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic, said case counts shot up 93% in Africa, though it cautioned about interpreting too much from that high figure because it was largely due to batch reporting of antigen tests by South Africa.
The report, for the first time, referred to the new omicron variant that was christened on Friday after being detected in South Africa and Botswana.
WHO said the variant has now been reported in a limited number of countries -- though it has spread widely, into four of the WHO's six regions.
As of Sunday, more than 280 million cases and more than 5.2 million deaths have been tallied due to the pandemic, WHO said.