COVID-19 worldwide down to around million cases, 3,500 deaths per day; S. Korea infection still case

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April 10 (UPI) — COVID-19 is continuing to subside throughout the world with cases in the past week down to slightly above 1 million a day and deaths under 3,400 though a few hotspots remain, including South Korea with more than 1.5 million in the past week.

Data are trending down despite subvarianrs of Omicron.

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In all, a total of 498,933,656 cases have been reported worldwide, including 7,300,066 in the past week, for a 23% drop in tracking by Worldometers.info on Sunday. And deaths rose by 23,229 in a 13% weekly decline for a total of 6,202,788.

Infections and fatalities decreased on every continent except cases in North America, with rises in the United States and Mexico, and deaths in Oceania, spurred by Australia and slightly by New Zealand.

Last week, daily cases dropped to 768,473 on Monday, the fewest since 764,439 Dec. 15 before the Omicron variant dominated and 2,775 deaths also last Monday, the lowest since 2,664 March 25, 2020. The 3,318 daily deaths average in the past week is the lowest since March of the first year of the pandemic. The cases’ weekly average of 1,042,868 is the fewest since 989,193 Dec. 28, the last time it was below a million.

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More than two years after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, concerns about getting the virus are way down.

In a Gallup poll conducted March 15-21, 35% of U.S. adults say they are very or somewhat worried about contracting COVID-19, the lowest point with a high of 64% in April 2020. Gallup surveyed 3,905 adults with the poll having a 2% sampling error.

But last week Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted there will likely be a rise in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks and a potential surge earlier in the fall.

“I would think that we should expect that we are going to see some increase in cases as you get to the colder weather in the fall,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg TV. “That’s the reason why the [Food and Drug Administration] and their advisory committee are meeting right now to plan a strategy, and we at the [National Institutes of Health] are doing studies now to determine what the best boost would be.”

The BA.2 variant, which has an increased level of transmissibility compared to the original Omicron strain, has become the dominant variant in the U.S.

Omicron first was reported in South Africa on Nov. 25.

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Europe had the biggest weekly decline in cases at 26% for a cumulative 183,931,606 followed by Africa at 23% for 11,792,990, Asia 18% with 143,661,855, South America at 15% with 56,400,588, Oceania 7% with 6,101,135 and North America rising 17% with 97,044,752.

In deaths, Africa declined 56% with the total 253,142 followed by Asia 27% with 1,411,141, South America 20% with 1,290,605, North America 16% with 1,448,849, Europe 6% with 1,789,395 and Oceania increasing 9% with 9,641.

In all, more than 11.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, an increase of 100 million in two weeks 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 78% of the population, tied with Latin America and Asia-Pacific, Europe at 68%, Middle East 55% and Africa at 20%, according to The New York Times tracking.

Asia

South Korea reported the most cases last week at 1,59,274 though it was a 29% drop. And deaths were 2,163 in a 6% decline. Through last Dec. 31, only 630,748 cases had been reported. Sunday’s increase was 164,481 with the record 621,328.

South Korea has climbed to ninth in cases at 15,333,670.

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Deaths rose 329 Sunday with the record 429 on March 24 and fatalities were always under 100 through late December.

Despite the outbreak, starting last week South Korea raised the cap on social gatherings from eight to 10 people and moved the curfew on restaurants and other indoor spaces to midnight.

And this week, health authorities plan to announce a new “post-omicron scheme,” including allowing people to go mask-free outside.

At the other extreme in Asia, India’s cases and death are near pandemic lows.

On Sunday, India reported 1,054 cases after 795 Tuesday, the least since 768 on April 10, 2020, with the record 414,433 in July during the Delta variant sure. The total is 43,035,271, only second behind the United States with 82,053,242.

Deaths were 29 for a total of 521,685 in third behind the United States at 1,012,131 and Brazil at 661,270. On Monday 13 were reported, tied for the fewest since 20 on April 6, 2020 with the world record 6,148 last June. The Delta variant emerged last summer in India.

Starting Sunday, India will offer booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adult.

Mainland China, where the outbreak was first announced in December 2019, reported 1,351 cases Sunday after 3,602 March 15, the most since mid-February 2020, for a total of 153,393. On March 26, China reported the first two deaths since a year ago January for a total of 4,638 in 88th, behind Sudan with 4,907.

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Shanghai’s entire 25 million residents went into a lockdown as the city has struggled to contain the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Parts of the city were locked down on March 28. People are banned from leaving the community, holding gatherings and quarantine restrictions are in place.

This has led to food shortages in the nation’s commercial capital.

“The tidal wave has yet to peak, and worries are that the citywide lockdown will last for another few weeks, which may cripple the local economy,” said Wang Feng, chairman of Shanghai-based financial service group Ye Lang Capital, told the South China Morning Post. “The business community is keeping a close eye on how the government will lift the lockdown.”

Hong Kong reported 1,921 cases Sunday for a total of 1,190,183 with the record 56,827 on March 10, and 65 fatalities for a cumulative 8,172, including a record 294 March 11. Until this year, Hong Kong, an island of 7.6 million people that has separate governing and economic systems from Communist China, had reported only 163 deaths and 243,612 cases. In 2020, it was 148 deaths and 8,847 cases.

Hong Kong has ended self-testing.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is ninth in deaths at 155,626, including 29 Sunday and 18th in cases at 6,032,707 with 1,071 Sunday. The records are 64,718 infections in Feburary and 2,069 last July.

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Iran is 11th in deaths a 140,615, gaining 39 Sunday.

In the past week, Vietnam’s cases dropped 44% to 324,615. The Asian nation added 28,307 cases Sunday with 53,185 seven days ago, and the record 203,036 in March. The nation is 12th overall in the world with 10,198,236. Indonesia added 19 deaths Sunday and is 24th overall at 19.

In one week, Turkey dropped two spots to 10th behind South Korea and Italy at 14,958,974, including 5,609 but 19th in deaths at 98,409, adding 32 Sunday.

Following is the rank order of some nations’ vaccination rates in Asia: Mainland China 90.5%, Singapore 88.1%, South Korea 86.9%, Hong Kong 87.9%, Malaysia 83.6%, Vietnam 82.1%, Japan 81.6%, Iran 76.1%, Israel 72.8%, Indonesia 73.0%, India 72.1%, Turkey 69.1% and Philippines 65.5%.

Europe

Four nations are in the top 10 for deaths: Russia fourth with 371,716 including 259 Sunday; Britain seventh at 169,759 with no data on weekends; Italy eighth at 160,748 with 90 Sunday and France 10th at 143,288 with 45.

Germany is 13th in deaths at 132,311, including 170 Saturday but fifth in cases at 212,874,740, including 100,037 Saturday.

Germany had the second-most cases in the world in the past week with 1,045,484, but dropping 26%.

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France had the third-most, 944,135, slipping 3% and is at 26,839,721 in fourth overall in the world, adding 54,659 Sunday with the record 501,635 Feb. 1 Italy is fourth with 446,568.

Britain ranks sixth in cases at 21,549,830 and Italy is ninth at 15,292,048, adding 64,659 Sunday.

On Sunday, Russia deaths were the least since 256 Nov. 9, 2020, as well as 13,056 cases in seventh overall at 17,996,060.

Russia is lagging the world in vaccinations with 54.8% 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 38% and Romania at 42.2%. Poland’s rate is 59.8% and Czech Republic’s is 65%.

Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated, according to tracking by Bloomberg. In the European Union, it’s 75.9%, including 87.4% in Spain, 85.1% in Italy, 84.1% in France, 83.1% in Denmark, 77.3% in Netherlands, 76.6% in Germany, 76.6% in Austria.

In Germany, the parliament Thursday rejected a draft bill that would have made coronavirus vaccination compulsory from the age of 60. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had favored the move.

“If no one had been vaccinated, we would now have a flawless catastrophe and would be in a complete lockdown – that must be understood,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said during the debate before the vote.

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In England, hospital admissions of 20.5 per 100,000 people are the highest point since January 2021, the fifth week in a row of increase.

A new variant called XE, which is a combination of two versions of Omicron, has emerged in Britain, was first identified in early January and has infected 600 people.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about XE,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., told USA Today. “XE could surprise us, so we have to wait to see how severe it will be.”

On April 1, Italy ended a state of emergency that had been in effect since Jan. 31, 2020.

And Spain will end it face mask requirement on April 20.

North America

The United States and Mexico are in the top 10 for most deaths. More cases were reported in those nations as well as Canada than in the past week.

The United States’ deaths dropped 19% in one week but cases were up 1%. On Saturday, the United States reported 155 deaths and 15,572 cases though only 11 states reported data. Totals are 1,012,131 fatalities and 82,053,242 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 900,400 on Jan. 7.

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The BA.2 Omicron variant accounts for 72% of the new cases in the United States.

Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 323,595 with a weekly decrease of 5% and 87 recorded Saturday and the record 1,417 in late January a year ago. The nation’s cases inceased 284% with 4,325 most recently for 20th at 5,719,829.

Canada’s cases rose 21% in one week with 3,481 Sunday after 16,891 Thursday for 33rd with 3,568,118 The record was 55,359 in mid-January. Canada’s deaths are up 18% and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 38,003 including 11 Sunday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.

Canada has low rates per million with deaths at 991 and cases 93,006. The United States is at 3,026 deaths per million compared with the world at 795.7 and 245,35` cases per million and the world at 63,994.

High on the world list in cases per million: Iceland 531,247 Denmark 503,880, Netherlands 463,430 Israel 428,214.

Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 85.4%. The United States is at 76.4% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 67%.

Starting Friday, cruise ships were allowed to make stops for the first time since early in the pandemic.

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Holland America Line’s Koningsdam ship was the first ship to dock in Victoria, Canada, on Saturday with a departure from Vancouver on Sunday.

Cruises through Canada are primarily during the summer season.

Cruising returned to Mexico in January and the United States last June.

On April 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevntion ended a policy that limited asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

South America

In the top 10 for most deaths are Brazil in second at 661,270 and Peru sixth with 212,471 and Colombia at 12th.

Brazil reported 88 deaths Saturday with the record 4,211 early last April. Brazil’s deaths declined 22% and cases were down 9% with 21,229 most recently, for a total of 30,146,192 in third. The record is 286,050 in early February.

Peru has the world’s highest death rate at 6,289 per million people and 33 reported Saturday.

Some South American nations have high vaccination rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 91.9% with Argentina 90.2%, Brazil 85.8%, Peru 85.8% and Colombia at 83.5%.

On April 1, Brazil ended its test requirement for vaccinated passengers.

Oceania

COVID-19 was largely contained in Oceania until the Omicron variant.

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In New Zealand, cases declined 21% with the nation of 5 million people reporting only a few hundred cases a day before the Omicron variant, including a record 216 at the time on Nov. 24. On Sunday, New Zealand reported 6,756 cases, the lowest since late February, for a total of 767,295 with the record 24,106 March 2.

The nation is on a traffic light system. The entire country is in Red, but on March 25 the system was changed to targeting restrictions “at those activities that reduce transmission the most.” Outdoor gathering limits have been eliminated with masks not required there and vaccine passes no longer needed at vents.

The nation added 12 deaths for a total of 457 with 68 at the start of March and a 84.2% vaccination rate.

Australia, which no longer is in lockdown, has vaccinated 86.4% of its population with at least one dose.

Australia reported 33,290 cases with a record of 150,702 in mid-January and a 3% weekly drop. Until the Omicron surge, the record was 2,688 on Oct. 14.

Overall, the nation has climbed to 21st in cases with 5,053,193. Deaths are 6,564 including 14 more Sunday and a 13% weekly increase. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134.

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Africa

Though the Omicron variant emerged in Africa, the continent’s situation has stabilized.

South Africa’s deaths decreased 38% and cases went down 6%.

Overall, South Africa has reported 3,731,247 cases, in 29th worldwide, with 1,181 Saturday. The record was 37,875 during the Omicron surge.

The nation is 18th in deaths at 100,096, including 12 Saturday.

The World Health Organization said up to 65% of people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus with the number of actual cases 97 times more than those reported. With a popualation of 1.216 biillion, the continent’s percentage of reported cases is 9.6%.

The Unirted Nations agency reviewed 151 studies in Africa based on blood samples from people between January 2020 and December 2021.

“This undercounting is occurring worldwide and it’s no surprise that the numbers are particularly large in Africa where there are so many cases with no symptoms,” WHO’s Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement Thursday.

South Africa’s vaccination rate is only 36.4%.

Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 28,426 ahead of Egypt with 24,473 with no data since March 25.