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WHO EMRO COVID-19 situation updates for week 38 (19–25 September 2021)

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The coronavirus disease COVID-19 continues to spread at the regional and global levels. As of 25

September 2021, the global cumulative incidence reached 230 539 839 reported cases and 4 728 785 associated deaths with a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.1%. Meanwhile, the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) have reported a total of 15 662 684 cases, which represent about 6.1% of the global count, with 287 118 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 (5 519 728 cases; 35.2% of the Region’s total), followed by Iraq (1 991 628; 12.7%) and Pakistan (1 238 668; 7.9%). Islamic Republic of Iran also reported the highest number of total associated deaths (119 072; CFR 2.2%) followed by Pakistan (27 566; CFR 2.2%) and Tunisia (24 788; CFR 3.5%). The highest CFRs were reported by Yemen (18.9%) followed by Sudan (7.4%), while the lowest CFRs were reported by Qatar (0.26%), United Arab Emirates (0.28%) and Bahrain (0.51%).

During epidemiological week 38, the Region reported a decrease in cases of 20.2% when compared to the previous week (203 105 cases compared to 254 537 cases). Similarly, a decrease of 17.5% was observed for associated deaths (4210 deaths compared to 5104 deaths).

Syrian Arab Republic, Somalia and occupied Palestinian territory reported a relative increase in COVID-19 activity in week 38. The cumulative number of cases increased from 30 519 to 32 580 in Syrian Arab Republic (a 6.8% weekly increase), from 19 004 to 19 723 in Somalia (a 3.8% weekly increase) and from 412 442 to 426 033 in occupied Palestinian territory (a 3.3% weekly increase). Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen had the largest relative increase in deaths.

In terms of testing, a total of 230 491 106 laboratory PCR tests were conducted since the start of the outbreak across the Region including 4 656 006 tests in week 38, which shows a 7.1% decrease compared to the previous week when 5 011 094 tests were conducted. The highest number of PCR tests were reported from United Arab Emirates (82.4 million), followed by Islamic Republic of Iran (31.6 million) and Saudi Arabia (28.7 million). United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are performing the highest rates of testing per capita (8252/1000 and 3641/1000, respectively). The average positivity rate for the Region is 6.8%. 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 281 352 602. Pakistan has administered the highest number of doses at 76 141 484, followed by Saudi Arabia at 41 488 511 and Morocco at 39 523 919. On the other hand the total number of administrated doses in Libya is 1 501 622, in Sudan is 1 499 982, in Syria is 533 949, in Somalia is 430 762, in Yemen is 322 934, and in Djibouti is 67 229.*

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.