“Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths (47,000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic,” WHO said in a statement.

The global response to the longtime threat of malaria has taken a hit as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted health services in many countries, leading to tens of thousands more deaths worldwide last year — as questions remain on the possible fallout this year, the AP reports, citing comments from the World Health Organization.

The U.N. health agency, in the latest edition of its World Malaria Report, cited a total of 241 million cases of the disease in 2020, up 14 million from the year before, and 627,000 deaths — an increase of 69,000.

“Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths (47,000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic,” WHO said in a statement.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted, roughly, for at least 95% of all malaria cases and deaths in 2020, the agency said.

The figures for last year could have been much worse though, with WHO saying its original projection anticipated a possible doubling of malaria-related deaths in 2020, and many countries sought to ramp up their programs to fight malaria.

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