Global epidemiological situation
To date, over 30.6 million COVID-19 cases and 950 000 deaths have been reported to WHO.
From 14 through 20 September, there were almost 2 million new cases of COVID-19, which represents a
6% increase compared to the previous week, and the highest number of reported cases in a single week
since the beginning of the epidemic. During the same period, there was a 10% decrease in the number
of deaths, with 36 764 deaths reported in the past seven days.
With the exception of the African Region, an increase in the weekly case incidence was reported across all
WHO regions in the last seven days (Table 1, Figure 2). Overall, the Region of the Americas continues to
carry the highest burden of COVID-19 globally, accounting for over 38% of all new cases reported in the
past seven days, although the region has reported a 22% decrease in new deaths. The WHO European
Region showed the greatest rise in deaths in the past week, with a 27% increase compared to the
The WHO South-East Asia Region has continued to report an increase in new COVID-19 deaths, with over
9000 deaths in the past week, accounting for 25% of all reported deaths and surpassing 100 000 total
COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the region accounts for 35% of new
cases reported in the past week. The Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific regions have both
reported a slight increase in reported cases and deaths over the last three weeks. The African Region
continues to show a marked decline with decreases of 12% and 16% in reported cases and deaths
respectively in the past week.
For the last six weeks, the African Region has continued to report a decrease in both COVID-19 cases
and deaths. During the past week, 33 of the 49 affected countries reported either a decrease in deaths
or no deaths. The region has reported almost 25 000 cumulative deaths to date, of which South Africa
accounts for 15 900 (64%). South Africa continues to report the highest number of new cases and new
deaths, followed by Ethiopia, Algeria and Mozambique.
Notably, 35 of 49 affected countries/territories/areas in the Region continue to report ongoing
Region of the Americas
The Region of the Americas remains the most affected WHO Region, accounting for 50% of all reported
cases and 55% of deaths. Even though the Region has reported an increase of 10% in the number of new
cases in the past week, it also accounts for the largest decrease in deaths compared to the previous
seven days (-22%) (Figure 4). Thirty-two out of the 48 affected countries and territories in the Region
report community transmission, while only eight report sporadic transmission.
The countries reporting the highest numbers of new cases in the past week include the United States of
America, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. The number of daily cases reported in Ecuador has remained
relatively high, with an average of more than 500 cases reported daily in September.
The marked decrease in the number of deaths in the Region has been driven mainly by a decrease in
Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Bolivia in the past seven days, while the United States of America and
Brazil continue to report the highest number of deaths, each reporting over 5000 new deaths in the past
While Argentina was one of the countries in the Americas with the lowest incidence of cases and deaths
during the first few months of the pandemic, over the last few months the weekly incidence of cases has
been rising rapidly, and test positivity rates have exceeded 40% in recent weeks.
Eastern Mediterranean Region
The number of cases and deaths reported in the Eastern Mediterranean Region have consistently
increased over the last three weeks (Figure 5), and have increased by 8% and 14% respectively in the last
seven days. The highest numbers of new cases were reported by Iraq, Iran and Morocco. Jordan, Oman
and Tunisia reported the greatest relative increase in cases compared to the previous week. While Iran
reported the highest number of new deaths, Tunisia and Afghanistan reported the greatest increase in
deaths compared to the previous week.
The number of cases and deaths reported in the European Region increased by 11% and 27%
respectively in the past seven days (Figure 6), with France, the Russian Federation, Spain and the United
Kingdom reporting the highest numbers of new cases in the past week. Iceland and Cyprus have
reported the greatest percentage increase in new cases in the past week.
The Region has been experiencing a slight increase in the number of reported deaths over the past four
weeks, reaching over 4000 new deaths in the past seven days. Hungary and Denmark reported the
highest relative increase in deaths in the past week, while the United Kingdom continues to report the
highest number of cumulative deaths, with almost 42 000.
South-East Asia Region
The South-East Asia Region is the second most affected Region and currently accounts for 35% and 25%
of cases and deaths, respectively, newly reported globally in the past seven days. Although the number
of cases and deaths has been increasing steadily since March, the increases have slowed, with
increases in new cases and deaths of only 1% and 4% respectively in the past week. The countries
reporting the highest number of new cases continue to be India, Indonesia and Bangladesh, while
Myanmar and Nepal showed the highest increase in new cases in the past seven days.
The countries reporting the highest number of new deaths per million population include India and
Maldives, with 6 and 4 deaths per million population respectively, while Myanmar continues to show the
highest increase in deaths in the past week.
Western Pacific Region
Overall, the Western Pacific Region continues to show the lowest cumulative cases, accounting for less
than 2% of global cases and less than 1.5% of all deaths. The Philippines and Japan accounted for the
greatest number of new cases and new deaths in the Region. Relative increases in the number of deaths
were reported in Malaysia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Key weekly updates
As the world comes together at an unprecedented mostly virtual 75th UN General Assembly from 15-
31 September, WHO has three messages to share:
1. Equitable access to COVID-19 tools. WHO calls on world leaders to support the Access to
COVID-19 Tools (ACT)-Accelerator, a unique international collaboration to fast-track the
development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines
globally, while strengthening health systems.
2. Maintain the momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The
pandemic risks unravelling decades of gains made in health and development. According to a
recent WHO survey, 90% of countries are experiencing disruptions to essential health
3. We must prepare for the next pandemic together, now. A year ago the independent Global
Preparedness Monitoring Board warned of the threat of a pandemic, calling for global leaders to
take urgent, united action to prepare. Last week, the Board issued its 2020 report, ‘A World in
Disorder’, which outlined five urgent actions to be taken: responsible leadership; engaged
citizenship; strong and agile systems for health security; sustained investment; and robust global
governance of preparedness.
• WHO Director-General Dr Tedros, in his regular media briefing on Friday, highlighted that this is a
critical moment for countries. As cases and deaths have started to spike again, he called upon
leaders to put targeted measures in place which can help suppress the spread of the virus and
ensure that health systems and workers are protected. Individuals must also practise physical
distancing, clean their hands frequently, wear a mask as advised, cough and sneeze safely away from
others, avoid crowds, and keep windows and doors open when they can’t meet friends and family
• WHO has published new guidance on school-related public health measures that examines
considerations for school operations, and the measures needed to minimize the risk to students and
staff of COVID-19.
• On 17 September, we celebrated World Patient Safety Day to raise global awareness of the
importance of health worker safety and its interlinkages with patient safety. The COVID-19 pandemic
has exerted unprecedented pressure on health systems worldwide. Health systems can only function
with health workers, and a knowledgeable, skilled and motivated health workforce is critical for the
provision of safe care to patients.
• WHO has released a slide set on ‘What we know about the long-term effects of COVID-19’. Typically
people recover from COVID-19 after two to six weeks; however, for some people, including young
adults and persons with no underlying medical conditions who were not hospitalized, symptoms may
linger or recur for weeks or months following initial recovery. Some patients develop medical
complications that may have lasting health effects. Much is still unknown, and more time and
research are needed to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19.