GENEVA (Reuters) – Global influenza cases rose on Monday to 51.2 million, with 1.2 million deaths and more than 70,000 deaths still confirmed, although more cases and fewer deaths are expected over the next three weeks, a WHO report said.

FILE PHOTO: Fluorescent ink prints of influenza virus are shown in this illustration photo taken in Singapore April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Chong/File Photo

By contrast, the usual season for the coronavirus that was first detected in 2007 has now peaked, declining to 4.6 million or 9 deaths per year by the end of the outbreak in January, the statement said.

“The situation is very critical for the next four weeks as the main suspected cases in China are being found on a faster-spreading network,” it said.

Chinese authorities are helping global efforts to contain the coronavirus which was first identified in Hong Kong in 2003 and spread rapidly around Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The new report showed 876,045 new cases in 48 countries, the highest number since 1993. The World Health Organization said 633,043 new cases had been verified, 72 percent higher than a year ago, while 447,068 deaths were verified, the WHO said.

The WHO had already said that it expected up to two million cases this season because of the outbreak in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

A WHO spokeswoman said it had been “hardly surprising” that total cases and deaths stood at up to 51.2 million cases and 716,620 deaths. Deaths would be related to many of the new cases, possibly leading to many more deaths.

She said however that preliminary information suggested that the new worldwide flu season should peak in December, ahead of winter, and end in February and March.

“In early November, 50 million cases and 716,000 deaths have been confirmed,” she said.

Earlier this week, the WHO said 1.4 million cases and 438,000 deaths had been confirmed. It had previously said that up to 1.7 million cases and 441,000 deaths had been confirmed.

The report said a total of 32 cases of influenza A (H3N2) virus (the World Health Organization considers it a “H1N1” disease that has made its debut in 2010) in the world’s 40 countries.

About 29 million people get the flu in the United States and 75 million globally during the annual season that peaks in the first few weeks of December.

(This version of the story has been refiled to add dropped second and fifth place in fourth paragraph)