Coronavirus cases drop 21% worldwide but South Korea, Indonesia set daily records

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Feb. 20 (UPI) — COVID-19 is subsiding worldwide with a weekly 10% decrease in deaths and 21% in cases three months after the Omicron variant was first reported though two Asian nations, South Korea and Indonesia, are experiencing record daily infections.

In the past seven days, global cases increased 12,787,862 for a total of 424,852,365, according to tracking by Worldometers.info on Sunday. Deaths, which lag a few weeks behind infections, increased to 67,624, for a total of 5,905,836. One week ago, the cases declined 19% and deaths fell 1%.

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Cases hit a daily record of 3,804,223 Jan. 20, and it dropped Saturday to 1,584,313. On Dec. 13, it was down to 480,954. During the height of the Delta variant spike, cases reached 904,084 on April 29. The 8,124 deaths reported Saturday is less than half of the record 17,399 Jan. 27, 2020.

Since Omicron was first detected in South Africa on Nov. 24, most nations had set daily cases records.

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But only two big countries set records last week: South Korea (109,828 Friday with 104,828 Sunday) and Indonesia (63,956 Thursday, 48,484 Sunday). But South Korea reported only 51 deaths Sunday, below the record of 109 Dec. 23, and Indonesia 163 on Sunday, far below 2,069 July 27.

Other nations with recent daily cases records include United States 904,168, France 501,635, Italy 228,1279, Brazil 286,050, Germany 247,128, Britain 218,724, Russia 203,766, Netherlands 189,377, Spain at 161,688, Australia 153,968, Argentina 134,439, Turkey 111,157, Japan 100,949, Israel 83,739, Mexico 60,552, Canada 55,350, Greece 50,126.

South Korea, with a population of 15.8 million, reported 563,804 cases in the week and rose to 1,3962,837, a 74% gain, with cases under 4,000 daily before the Omicron detection. South Korea has reported 7,405 deaths.

Despite a surge, South Korea is resorting to a “select and focus” approach by asking patients who test positive to look after themselves at home.

“We must use our limited resources more effectively, focusing on preventing high-risk patients from getting seriously ill or dying,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said last week.

Indonesia, with 278 million people, had been relatively immune from the spike, but cases rose 385,769 in one week, an increase of 74% from the prior seven days, for a total of 5,197,505 in 17th. Indonesia’s previous record was 56,715 in mid-July last year during the Delta surge. Indonesia’s deaths are 146,365 in ninth place.

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Indonesia is considering lifting all quarantine requirements for inbound travelers in April. The period has been reduced from five to three among those who have received three vaccine doses.

“We need to find that balance between the need to maintain health and the need to maintain the economy,” Luhut Panjaitan, the cabinet minister in charge of the pandemic response in Java and Bali, said last week.

He added that ospitalization and death rates have “been so much lower than” those suffered during the Delta outbreak.

Indonesia has vaccinated 70.1% of its population with at least one dose and South Korea is at 86.5%.

In all, more than 10.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, an increase of 200 million in one week with the world’s population of 7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg tracking.

Broken down by world regions, the United States and Canada have administered at least one dose to 77% of the population, followed by Latin America at 76%, Asia-Pacific 75%, Europe at 68%, Middle East 53% and Africa at 16%, according to The New York Times tracking.

Following is the rank order of some nations’ vaccination rates elsewhere in Asia: Mainland China 90.2%, Singapore 87%, India 69.8%, Japan 80.7%, Malaysia 80.4%, Turkey 68.9%, Iran 73.7%, Israel 73.1%, and Philippines 61.3%,

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In Asia over the past week, cases were down 7% with a total of 112,054,317 and deaths dropped 11% to 1,333,317, two weeks after rising 45%.

India holds the world daily record for deaths, not including major reconciliations: 6,148 last June. The Delta variant emerged in India.

India’s cases declined 57% with 19,968 Sunday to 42,822,473 in second place behind the United States. Since the Omicron strain, the most cases have been 347,254 in January. Until that time, cases were under 40,000.

Fatalities dropped 57%, including 684 Sunday, two weeks after rising 68% The total is 511,903 in third behind the United States and Brazil.

Starting last Monday, India ended self-monitoring for 14 days for symptoms, instead going to the previous rule of home quarantine for seven days.

“Under no circumstances we should do away with all restrictions,” Dr. Ambarish Dutta, a professor at the Public Health Foundation of India, told the Economic Times. “We should not emulate other countries as their health system is much stronger. Unnecessary large gatherings should be avoided, masking is very much needed.”

In Mainland China, where COVID-19 originated more than two years ago, the nation of 1.5 billion people, the largest in the world, no deaths have been reported in a year.

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The bulk of China’s fatalities were announced only a few months after the first confirmed one on Jan. 9, 2020. The last reported fatality was Jan. 28, 2021, and the figure now is 4,636 in 85th behind Australia with 4,913. Cases reported Sunday: 195.

China has adopted a zero-tolerance stance on coronavirus, locking down cities of several million people and massive testing.

And this has been applied to the Summer Olympics in a “closed loop” with 60,000 competitors, journalists and other officials cut off from others and being tested for COVID-19 every day.

The Closing Ceremony was Sunday.

Unlike in other nations where events are being played in packed stadiums, including more than 100,000 in the United States, attendance is sparse with no foreigners allowed and only invited guests allowed in venues.

Testing is conducted daily. More than 1.3 million tests have been conducted for 13,492 arrivals, including 2,900 athletes from 84 countries.

A total of 429 Olympics-related cases have been reported since the closed-loop launched on Jan. 23, including 182 involving athletes and team officials.

On Sunday, no new infections were reported. One was reported Saturday among either an athlete or team official.

Since Jan. 23, a total of 437 cases have been found among Olympics-related personnel, including 185 athletes and team officials.

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Japan, which hosted the Summer Olympics during the Delta surge, reported 71,488 cases, 14 days after a record 100,959 with a 14% weekly drop. The total is 4,498,175. Until the surge, the record was 26,184 less than two weeks after the Olympics ended.

Japan also added 158 deaths Sunday for a total of 221,860, rising 1,374 in a week for a 48% gain. The record was set Thursday with 271.

Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura estimated there will be 4,339 fatalities between January and April 20, with more than 70% of the victims in their 80s or older.

The fifth wave last summer with Delta variant killed about 3,000 people in Japan, the professor said.

Japan has a relatively low 35,058 infections per million.

Iran is 12th in deaths at 135,040 including 242 Sunday.

Turkey is eighth in cases, dropping behind Germany in the past week, adding 70,355 Sunday, for a total of 13,504,485, and 19th in deaths at 92,451 including 263 new ones.

Vietnam’s cases rose 114% with the total 2,787,493, including 47,200 Sunday.

Israel has a death toll of 9,971 with 129 reported Sunday and 17,803 cases for a total of 3,552,865.

In March, the nation will drop the Green Pass system, requiring present proof of vaccination for most venues.

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“This wave is breaking,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement last week. “We are seeing a decline in the number of severely ill. “We were the first country to close its gates in the Omicron wave; therefore, this is also the time for a gradual relaxation.

“As far as I am concerned, we must prepare to relax the restrictions soon.”

Bennett was referring to the closure of Israel’s borders to non-nationals in November.

Guam, a territory of the United States with only 169,000 people, reported 1,639.9 cases per 100,000 in the past week, only second behind Northern Mariana Islands at 2,358,7 and Maine at 1,889.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guam has 42,403 cases and 316 deaths.

Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated. In the European Union, it’s 75.4%, including 87.1% in Spain, 83.2% in Denmark, 82.8% in France, 84.8% in Italy, 77.2% in Netherlands, 76.2% in Austria, 76.2% in Germany. Britain, which has left the EU, has a 78.3% rate.

Russia is lagging the world in vaccination with 53.6% of its population with at least one dose of a domestic-produced vaccine, including Sputnik 5.

Two other Eastern European nations have low vaccination rates: Ukraine at 37.8% and Romania at 42%. Poland’s rate is 59.3% and Czech Republic’s is 64.9%.

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In Europe, cases declined 24% with a world-high 8,585,352 for 150,621,431 in first place among continents. Deaths dropped 2% to a total of 1,685,107, also in first place.

In Germany, cases surged early during the Omicron variant. They declined 9% last week, 1,219,438, close behind No. 1 Russia with 1,264,160, and have risen to seventh in the world at 13,523,782. On Sunday so far, 104,131 infections were reported.

Until Nov. 4, the record at trhe time was 32,546 on April 14.

Deaths rose 8% in Germany. On Dec. 24, Germany reported 575 deaths, the most since 589 on Feb. 16. Sunday’s gain was 65 for 121,891 in 14th. Deaths are nowhere near the record of 1,249 on Dec. 29.

Germany has a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, including nonessential services, and social distancing rules. But Germany plans to hold a “freedom day” on March 20.

But Chancellor Olaf Scholz still wants mandatory vaccinations, saying “the pandemic isn’t over.”

France reported the fifth-most cases in the world in the past week, 605,561, behind Russia, Germany, Brazil and the United States but decreased 41%. France’s 22,227,826 total cases are fourth in the world.

France has the worst infection rate among large nations: 339,307 per million with the world at 54,451. Britain is at 271,742 and United States at 239,614. Israel’s rate is 379,054.

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Saturday’s increase was 76,638.

France is 11th in deaths at 136,594 including 148 Saturday.

In England, Plan B restrictions ended, including working from home if possible, no mandatory masks in public or a vaccine pass to enter venues.

And people won’t be legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus.

Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson Monday will confirm all of England’s pandemic regulations will end when he lays out his “living with COVID” plan on Monday.

On Sunday, Buckingham Palace announced Queen Elizabeth II tested positive.

Britain’s deaths are 160,581 in seventh, including 74 Sunday with a 22% weekly drop. The record is 1,824 in January one year ago.

Britain’s cases decreased 25% with 25,696 Sunday for a total of 18,605,752 in fifth.

With most restrictions ended, indoor mask mandates will end Feb. 28 though they will still be necessary on public transportation.

Vaccinations are necessary to attend events or travel on trains in France, as negative tests will no longer be accepted.

On Sunday, Russia reported 745 deaths, with the record 1,254 on Nov. 19, for a total of 345,500 in fourth place. Russia’s cases are down 3% but deaths are up 9%.

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Amid the spike, the mandatory quarantine after a positive test went from two weeks to seven days. And people no longer need to have a negative test.

In deaths elsewhere, Italy is ninth with 152,989, including 141 Sunday. In the top 20: Poland 15th with 109,817, rising by 25; Ukraine 16th with 104,518, including 152 more; and Spain 18th with 97,998 and no data on weekends.

Italy reported 42,081 infections Sunday. Until the recent spike, the record was 41,198 in November 2020.

Italy has a “Green Pass,” which is proof of vaccination, tested negative or previously had the disease, on public transportation and in many public spaces. And vaccines are now required for those older than 50 in the workplace.

Since last Monday, Spain is allowing non-EU travelers between the age of 12 and 17 if they have a vaccination certificate. Also gone is the outdoors mask mandate in most situations.

In North America, the deaths are 1,383,782 with an 18% weekly decrease, and cases are 94,121,746, declining 41%.

The United States’ cases dropped 45% and deaths went down 19%. On Sunday, the United States reported 282 deaths and 15,056 cases though two-thirds didn’t report data.

Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 315,525 with a weekly increase of 11% and 470 recorded Saturday with the record 1,4127 in late January a year ago. The nation’s cases decreased 14% with 19,857 most recently for 16th at 5,407,711.

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Canada’s cases dropped 27% in one week with 3,377 on Sunday for 26th with 3,241,867

Until the Omicron variant, the record was 11,383 one year ago Jan. 3.

Canada’s deaths are down 28% and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 36,041 including 25 on Sunday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.

Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 941 and cases 84,594.

Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 85%. The United States is at 75.4% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 66.5%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.

For three weeks, Canadian truckers have descended on Ottawa and other cities in protests against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. The Ambassador Bridge between the United States and Canada reopened a week ago Sunday.

Ottawa police posted Sunday on Twitter that 57 vehicles have been towed and 191 arrested in the “unlawful protest.”

In Mexico, there are no “red” maximum risk states in the traffic light system. Cancun, a popular tourist designation, is “yellow” as part of Quintana Roo’s state. All states bordering the United States are orange.

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In South America, cases decreased 24% in one week with a total of 53,303,297 and deaths were down 10% to 1,248,455.

Brazil reported 424 deaths Sunday with the record 4,211 in early April for a total of 644,362 in third. Brazil’s cases declined 7% with cases down 22%, with 40,625 most recently, for a total of 28,208,212 in second.

Also in the top 10 for deaths, Peru is sixth at 209,298 and Colombia is 10th at 138,106. Argentina is 13th with 125,278 and Chile 23rd with 41,347.

On Sunday, Chile added 151 deaths with 201 Wednesday, the most since early last July with Colombia 110 and Argentina 93. Peru, which didn’t publish data on Sunday, added 188 a day prior.

These numbers are way down from records: Peru with 1,154, Colombia with 754, Argentina with 791, Chile with 316.

Argentina posted 7,807 infections Saturday.

Peru has the world’s highest death rate at 6,207 per million people.

Some South American nations have high vaccination rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 91.1% with Argentina 88.6%, Brazil at 83.2%, Colombia at 81.6% and Peru 79.7%.

Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo Carnival festivities have been postponed to April 21 from Friday.

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Like South America, it’s summer in Oceania.

Cases decreased 3% for a total of 3,284,128 and deaths were down 11% for a total of 7,457.

Australia had largely avoided mass infections until the Omicron surge, with only 2,688 as of Oct. 14. The nation reported 17,413 more cases Sunday, about 12% of the record recently.

Overall, the nation has climbed to 29th with 3,032,073. Deaths are 4,913, including 33 more Sunday and 334 in one week for a 14% decline. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134, with the previous mark before Omicron 59 in early September 2020.

Australia has vaccinated 85.5% of its population with at least one dose.

Australia no longer is in lockdown.

New Zealand’s deaths remained at 53 total for two weeks and the nation added a record 2,366 cases Sunday. Before the Omicron variant was detected, the record was 216 on Nov. 24.

On Sunday, 100 people were in hospitals, also the highest since the pandemic but not are in intensive care.

New Zealand, which has an 83.4% vaccination rate, is on a traffic light system. The entire country is in Red, meaning everyone will be required to wear masks in public venues and on public transportation. Customers are limited and events have been called off because of participation curbs.

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Though the variant emerged in Africa, the continent’s situation has stabilized with a 26% weekly cases drop with a total of 11,441,002. Deaths went down 5% for a total toll of 247,646.

South Africa’s infections decreased by 6% but deaths rose 40%.

Overall, South Africa has reported 3,658,547 cases, in 20th worldwide, with 1,456 Sunday. Ten weeks ago there was a record 37,875

The nation is 17th in deaths at 98,667, including 50 Sunday and 435 Friday, the most since late August.

South Africa’s vaccination rate is only 34.5%.

Six African nations — Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia — were selected Friday as the first recipients of technology from the World Health Organization’s global mRNA vaccine hub in a push to ensure the African continent can make its own jabs to fight Covid and other diseases.

“This is an initiative that will allow us to make our own vaccines and that, to us, is very important,” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said. “It means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investment in our economies, infrastructure investment and, in many ways, giving back to the continent.”

Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 27,448 ahead of Egypt with 23,725.

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