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Latest: WHO reports big drop in new coronavirus infections

The World Health Organization says there were about 4 million coronavirus cases reported globally last week

GENEVA - The World Health Organization said there were about 4 million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.

In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.

Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a 7% increase in deaths in Africa. The highest numbers of cases were seen in the U.S., Britain, India, Iran and Turkey and the highly contagious delta variant has now been reported in 180 countries.

WHO also said children and teenagers continue to be less affected by COVID-19 when compared to adults, adding that deaths of people under 24 due to the disease account for fewer than 0.5% of global deaths.

WHO has previously said children should not be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations given the extreme vaccine shortages globally.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

- Largest public universities in U.S. push vaccines with mandates and prizes

- COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. climb back to last winter's levels winter

- See AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS - Health care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.

Vaccines are now compulsory for medical care, home care and emergency workers in France, and Wednesday is the deadline for such staff to have had at least one shot. Failing that, they face having pay suspended or not being able to work. But a top court has forbidden staff to be fired outright.

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia will launch a campaign Friday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children between 6 and 11 years of age.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the action was being taken to allow children to return safely to school after a long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an audio message to province and municipality chiefs posted on his Facebook page, he said more than 1.8 million children were expected to get their jabs under the program, which will use Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.

He also said he was considering having children 3-5 years-old be vaccinated soon.

Students socially distance as they sit in a classroom at the Preah Sisowath high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The Municipal of Phnom Penh recently issued a statement to reopen junior high and high schools due to the high number of vaccination rates for teachers and students, low infection rates and the schools' to compliance to health standards. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden's case for sweeping new vaccination requirements. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2021, file photo, a girl passes a "Welcome Back to School" sign as she arrives for the first day of class at Brooklyn's PS 245 elementary school in New York. COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, fueled by children now back in their classrooms, loose mask restrictions and low vaccination levels. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)