OREANDA-NEWS. Some 9.5 million new cases of coronavirus have been identified worldwide over the past week, a 71% increase in the number of new cases detected the week before. Maria van Kerkhove, the organisation's technical head for COVID-19, said this during a briefing, according to the UN website.

"And we know that this (number of cases detected) is an underestimate,"- she said, warning that the organisation expects the number of cases to rise next week as doctors around the world have detected more than 2.2 million new cases in the past 24 hours alone.

WHO chief Adanom Tedros Gebreyesus noted during the briefing that a "tsunami" of new cases of the coronavirus had previously rocked health systems around the world. "Although omicron appears to be less severe compared to delta, especially in vaccinated people, this does not mean it should be classified as 'mild',"- he pointed out.

Gebreyesus added that the number of new patients identified last week was the highest on record during the pandemic. He explained that the WHO believes the number of new cases of COVID-19 is underestimated due to the backlog of testing due to the holidays.

A new strain of the omicron coronavirus was detected in South Africa in late November. The WHO on 24 November recognised the new variant of the infection as a global threat. According to experts, it is more contagious than the delta strain COVID-19.