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COVID-19 situation updates for week 41 (10 - 16 October 2021)

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The coronavirus disease COVID-19 continues to spread at the regional and global levels. As of 16 October 2021, the global cumulative incidence reached 239 896 739 reported cases and 4 886 711 associated deaths with a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2%. Meanwhile, the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) have reported a total of 16 108 324 cases, which represent about 6.7% of the global count, with 296 398 associated deaths (CFR 1.8%). Most countries in the Region are in the community transmission phase.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the country that has reported the highest number of total cases in the Region is Islamic Republic of Iran (5 773 419 cases; 35.8% of the Region’s total), followed by Iraq (2 033 737; 12.6%) and Pakistan (1 264 384; 7.9%). Islamic Republic of Iran also reported the highest number of total associated deaths (123 876; CFR 2.1%) followed by Pakistan (28 269; CFR 2.2%) and Tunisia (25 098; CFR 3.5%). The highest CFRs were reported by Yemen (18.9%) followed by Sudan (7.5%), while the lowest CFRs were reported by Qatar (0.26%), United Arab Emirates (0.29%) and Bahrain (0.5%).

During epidemiological week 41, the Region reported a decrease in cases of 5.1% when compared to the previous week (136 407 cases compared to 143 780 cases). Similarly, a decrease of 6.9% was observed for associated deaths (2779 deaths compared to 2985 deaths).

Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan and Egypt reported a relative increase in COVID-19 activity in week 41. The cumulative number of cases increased from 36 713 to 38 705 in Syrian Arab Republic (a 5.4% weekly increase), from 38 827 to 39 839 in Sudan (a 2.6% weekly increase) and from 311 576 to 317 585 in Djibouti (a 1.9% weekly increase). Syrian Arab Republic, Somalia and Libya had the largest relative increase in deaths.

In terms of testing, a total of 244 270 133 laboratory PCR tests were conducted since the start of the outbreak across the Region including 4 696 139 tests in week 41, which shows a 4.6% increase compared to the previous week when 4 489 954 tests were conducted. The highest number of PCR tests were reported from United Arab Emirates (89 million), followed by Islamic Republic of Iran (34 million) and Saudi Arabia (30 million). The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are performing the highest rates of testing per capita (8907/1000 and 3825/1000, respectively). The average positivity rate for the Region is 6.6%. WHO recommends a positivity rate of around 3–12% as a general benchmark indicating adequate testing, which was achieved in most countries of the Region.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination continues across the Region. The total number of doses administered so far in the 22 countries is 343 633 975. Pakistan has administered the highest number of doses at 93 551 193, followed by Saudi Arabia at 44 522 847and Morocco at 44 069 544. On the other hand the total number of administrated doses in Sudan is 2 067 204, in Libya is 1 748 160, in Syria is 902 519, in Somalia is 599 715, in Yemen is 356 173 and in Djibouti is 92 097.*

Supporting countries in the Region

The regional incident management support team continues to coordinate the response and provide technical support to countries and partners in the Region in the areas of coordination and partnership, surveillance, laboratory capacity, clinical management, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, points of entry according to the International Health Regulations (2005), research, health systems, and essential health services among others.

For more data from the Region, please visit the COVID-19 dashboard.
*The data on vaccination is obtained from a number of sources including media reports and country websites for ministries of health.