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COVID-19 situation updates for week 52 (26 December 2021 – 1 January 2022)

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The coronavirus disease COVID-19 continues to spread at the regional and global levels. As of 1 January 2022, the global cumulative incidence reached 292 532 503 reported cases and 5 431 622 associated deaths with a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 1.9%. Meanwhile, the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) have reported a total of 17 203 559 cases, which represent about 5.9% of the global count, with 316 176 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 (6 195 403 cases; 36% of the Region’s total), followed by Iraq (2 093 891; 12.2%) and Pakistan (1 296 527; 7.5%). Islamic Republic of Iran also reported the highest number of total associated deaths (131 639; CFR 2.1%) followed by Pakistan (28 941; CFR 2.2%) and Tunisia (25 586; CFR 3.5%). The highest CFRs were reported by Yemen (19.6%) followed by Sudan (7.1%), while the lowest CFRs were reported by Qatar (0.25%), United Arab Emirates (0.28%) and Bahrain (0.49%).

During epidemiological week 52, the Region reported an increase in cases of 40% when compared to the previous week (108 464 cases compared to 77 295 cases). On the other hand, a decrease of 5.6% was observed for associated deaths (1204 deaths compared to 1275 deaths).

Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan reported a relative increase in COVID-19 activity in week 52. The cumulative number of cases increased from 711 259 to 731 288 in Lebanon (a 2.8% weekly increase), from 380 520 to 386 358 in Egypt (a 1.5% weekly increase) and from 462 85 to 46 988 in Sudan (a 1.5% weekly increase). Jordan, Libya and Lebanon had the largest relative increase in deaths.

In terms of testing, a total of 294 992 406 laboratory PCR tests were conducted since the start of the outbreak across the Region including 5 537 220 tests in week 52, which shows a 9.6% increase compared to the previous week when 5 053 882 tests were conducted. The highest number of PCR tests were reported from United Arab Emirates (111.2 million), followed by Islamic Republic of Iran (42.1 million) and Saudi Arabia (33.3 million). The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are performing the highest rates of testing per capita (11 192/1000 and 4604/1000, respectively). The average positivity rate for the Region is 5.8%. 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 521 750 451. Pakistan has administered the highest number of doses at 150 951 087, followed by Islamic Republic of Iran at 116 210 697 and Egypt at 52 819 190. On the other hand the total number of administrated doses in Sudan is 3 157 227, in Libya is 2 664 009, in Syria is 1 753 522, in Somalia is 1 504 914, in Yemen is 659 712 and in Djibouti is 126 786.*

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.