The world recorded more than two million daily coronavirus cases on average between Jan. 1 and 7 with figures doubling in 10 days, an AFP tally showed on Saturday, Jan. 8.
An average of 2,106,118 new daily infections were reported over the seven-day period, shortly after the one million case threshold was passed in the week of Dec. 23-29, 2021.
New global case numbers have soared by 270% since the highly contagious Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa in late November.
But Covid-related deaths were at their lowest level since October 2020, with an average of 6,237 per day recorded in the period between Jan. 1 and 7.
Although early studies suggest Omicron causes less severe illness, experts have warned the sheer volume of cases fuelled by the strain could still overwhelm health systems.
Countries around the world have reintroduced restrictions and ramped up vaccination programs in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
Europe, as well as the United States and Canada, are the world's infection hotspots. The two regions respectively represented 49% and 33% of global COVID-19 cases in the past week.
Covid cases skyrocketed by 47% in Europe and 76 percent in the United States and Canada compared with the previous week.
In the same period, Covid infections increased by 224% in Oceania, 148% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 116% in the Middle East, and 145% in Asia.
The number of new cases reported in Africa remained stable but, as elsewhere, were at their highest level since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The figures are based on official statistics produced by national health authorities.
A significant proportion of less severe or asymptomatic cases go undetected despite intensified testing regimes since the beginning of the pandemic.
Testing policies also vary from one country to another.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to COVID-19, the World Health Organization estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher. (AFP)