South Korea leads world in weekly COVID-19 cases; India deaths down to 76 in week

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April 17 (UPI) — The COVID-19 situation is trending in opposite directions in two Asian countries — up in South Korean and down in India — with worldwide deaths down 33% in one week and an 802,000 daily average and cases dropping 25% to around 2,600 each day.

South Korea reported the most cases in the world in the past week with 1,043,562 though it was a 32% weekly decline and deaths were third in the world with 1,797 behind the United States and Russia. The nation has moved up to eighth in the world at 16,305,752 cases with only 630,748 reported through the end of last year.

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Conversely, India, which has the second-highest population in the world at 1.4 billion, reported only 66 weekly deaths, including just one on Thursday with four Sunday for a total of 521,751, third behind the United States and Brazil. The last time there were zero was March 24, 200 with the record 6,148 last June when the Delta variant emerged there. And cases declined 4%, including around 1,000 each day last week after a record 414,438 May 6, 2021.

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Numbers continue to decrease despite subvariants of Omicron.

In all, a total of 504,530,873 cases have been reported worldwide, including 7,611,566 in the past week, in tracking by Worldometers.info on Sunday. And deaths rose by 18,646 over seven days for a total of 6,222,532.

Infections and fatalities decreased on every continent except deaths up slightly in Oceania.

Last week, daily cases dropped to 703,222 on Friday, the fewest since 584,081 Dec. 10 before the Omicron variant dominated and 2,142 deaths Sunday, the lowest since 2,088 March 23, 2020 during the start of the pandemic. The cases’ weekly average dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since 989,391 Dec. 28.

There has been a spike in some places in the world, including a 4% weekly cases rise in the United States though deaths are down 38%. The BA.2 variant, which has an increased level of transmissibility compared with the original Omicron strain, has become the dominant variant in the U.S. Omicron first was reported in South Africa on Nov. 25.

“We are certainly seeing the beginning of a surge of new infections,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a CNN report. “It depends on how high we go up in the surge, and it depends on whether the surge is associated with an increase in severe disease.

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“I can’t say where we are right now, because we’re transitioning.”

South America had the biggest weekly decline in cases at 29% for a cumulative 56,542,229, closely followed by Asia at 28% for 1,415,643, Europe 24% for 186,669,458, North America 15% for 97,387,605, Oceania 16% for 6,495,886 and Africa 6% for 11,823,610.

In deaths, Africa declined 57% with the total 253,384 followed by North America 34% with 1,452,856, South America 29% with 1,291,923, Europe 28% with 1,798,713, Asia 23% with 1,415,643, and Oceania increasing 4% with 9,999.

In all, more than 11.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, an increase of less than 100 million in a 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 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

On Sunday, Korea reported 93,001 cases, the first time under 100,00 since Feb. 22. And deaths were 203. The record was 470 on March 24 with the mark until this year 109 on Dec. 23.

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On Friday, health authorities announced plans for the end to virtually all restrictions, including no limits on hours for retail and restaurants plus no size restrictions for weddings and rallies. Also, the seven-day isolation requirement for people who test positive would end in late May.

The government will consider ending its outdoor mask mandate in two weeks.

“It’s inevitable that we’ll have to keep wearing a mask indoors for a long time,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said.

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

On Sunday, India reported 1,150 cases for a total of 43,042,097, a gain of only 7,000 in one week.

India is disputing calculations by the World Health Organization more than 4 million people have died from COVID-19 instead of the official more than 500,000. In all, WHO calculated 9 million more worldwide.

“India feels that the process was neither collaborative nor adequately representative,” the government said in a statement to the United Nations Statistical Commission in February.

Mainland China, where the outbreak was first announced in December 2019, reported 3,896 cases Sunday, the most since 5,090 Feb. 13, 2020 for a total of 182,293. 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 4,929.

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Most of the new cases have occurred in Shanghai, where the entire 25 million residents have been in a lockdown as the city has struggled to contain the Omicron variant of COVID-19. People are required to quarantine if they test positive and are banned from leaving the community and hosting gatherings.

China has the world’s largest population in the world at 1.5 billion.

Shanghai is the financial capital of China.

In a bid to reignite the city, Shanghai’s Economic and Information Technology Commission on Saturday published guidelines for resuming production in a post on its WeChat account, Bloomberg News reported.

Hong Kong reported 747 cases Sunday, the first time under 800 in nine weeks, for a total of 1,197,825 with the record 56,827 on March 10, and 29 fatalities for a cumulative 9,139, 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 next week plans to ease social distancing but it is prepared to make rapid testing more available.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is ninth in deaths at 155,866, including 22 Sunday and 18th in cases at 6,039,873 with 607 Sunday. The records are 64,718 infections in Feburary and 2,069 last July.

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Iran is 11th in deaths a 140,829, gaining 29 Sunday.

In the past week, Vietnam’s cases dropped 51% to 161,264. The Asian nation added 14,680 cases Sunday with the record 203,036 in March. The nation is 12th overall in the world with 10,432,547. Indonesia added 10 deaths Sunday and is 24th overall at 42,944.

Turkey is 10th in cases at 14,991,669 including 4,086 Saturday but 19th in deaths at 98,551, adding 19 Saturday.

Following is the rank order of some nations’ vaccination rates in Asia: Mainland China 90.5%, Hong Kong 88.2%, Singapore 88.1%, South Korea 86.9%, Malaysia 83.8%, Vietnam 82.3%, Japan 81.7%, Iran 76.2%, India 73.2%, Indonesia 73.0%, Israel 72.8%, Turkey 69.1% and Philippines 66.4%.

Europe

Four nations are in the top 10 for deaths: Russia fourth with 373,500 including 233 Sunday; Britain seventh at 171,396 with no data on weekends; Italy eighth at 161,687 with 85 Sunday and France 10th at 144,122 with 61 Saturday.

Germany is 13th in deaths at 133,426, including 11 Sunday but fifth in cases at 23,436,630, including 23,053 Sunday.

Germany had the third-most cases in the world in the past week with 777,479, but dropped 26%.

France had the second-most, 844,653, dropping 11% and is at 26,839,721 in fourth overall in the world, adding 111,583 Saturday with the record 501,635 Feb. 1.

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Italy is fourth worldwide in the past week with 421,040 overall and 51,993 Sunday for a total of 15,659,835 in ninTh.

Britain ranks sixth in cases at 21,747,638.

On Sunday, Russia’s deaths were the least since 219 Oct. 26 2020, as well as 10,263 cases Sunday in seventh overall at 18,074,717.

Russia is lagging the world in vaccinations with 54.9% 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 42.3%. 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, 84.2% in France, 83.1% in Denmark, 77.3% in Netherlands, 76.6% in Germany, 76.6% in Austria.

Britain last week approved a Moderna booster for those 6 to 11 years old.

And it became the first European nation to authorize a vaccine for adults made by French drugmaker Valneva.

Italy, Spain and Portugal kept their vaccine entry rules in place over the Easter break. Restrictions also remain in place in Germany.

North America

The United States and Mexico are in the top 10 for most deaths.

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The United States’ deaths dropped 38% in one week but cases were up 4%. On Saturday, the United States reported 80 deaths and 12,890 cases though only eight states reported data. Totals are 1,015.441 fatalities and 82,309,113 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 903,334 on Jan. 7.

The last time cases were under above 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 115,931 Feb. 22. The seven-day moving average is 34,778.

Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 323,938 with a weekly decrease of 34% and 35 recorded Saturday and the record 1,417 in late January a year ago. The nation’s cases decreased 99% with 1,192most recently for 20th at 5,719,829.

Canada’s cases decreased 1% in one week with 8,533 Saturday after 19,215 Thursday, for 32nd with 3,568,118 The record was 55,359 in mid-January. Canada’s deaths are up 5% and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 38,311 including 23 Saturday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.

Canada has low rates per million with deaths at 999 and cases 94,757. The United States is at 3,036 deaths per million compared with the world at 798.2 and 246,089 cases per million and the world at 64,085.

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High on the world list in cases per million: Iceland 532,982, Denmark 505,763, Netherlands 465,952 Israel 431,959

Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 85.4%. The United States is at 76.5% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 67.1%.

The Mexican government says children under 15 are now eligible for the vaccine with rollout plans later this month.

Last week, Canada approved AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, an antibody combination to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 infections in immunocompromised people. The drug already has been approved in the United States.

South America

In the top 10 for most deaths are Brazil in second at 661,993 and Peru sixth with 212,619. Colombia is 12th at 139,745.

Brazil reported 33 deaths Saturday with the record 4,211 early last April. Brazil’s deaths declined 33% and cases were down 30% with 2,775 most recently, for a total of 30,250,077 in third. The record is 286,050 in early February.

Peru has the world’s highest death rate at 6,282 per million people and 23 reported Saturday.

Some South American nations have high vaccination rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 92.0% with Argentina 90.3%, Brazil 85.9%, Peru 86.1% and Colombia at 83.6%.

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The Samba Parades for the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro will begin Wednesday, the first time since the pandemic with the year’s delayed from February before Lent.

Oceania

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

In New Zealand, cases declined 23% 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 5,985 cases one day after 5,812, the lowest since late February, for a total of 824,867 with the record 24,106 March 2.

The nation added 11 deaths for a total of 554 with 68 at the start of March and an 84.3% vaccination rate.

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 events.

In 2020, New Zealand’s population increased at the fastest rate since the 1970s. But now estimated 50,000 want to leave over the next year. It includes those isolated with pandemic restrictions and also young graduates taking long-delayed “overseas experience” trips. And residents are faced with rising living costs, including housing costs rising 27% last year.

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“Through the pandemic and everything I was looking to buy a house and saving to buy a house – and that’s gotten harder and harder and also more depressing,” David Coffey, a mental health worker in Wellington, told the Guardian.

He found Airbnb places cheaper in Barcelona, Spain, than what they are paying for rent.

His partner Alie Benge said: “If we’re going to be paying a fortune for living costs, we might as well be doing that in London.”

Australia, which no longer is in lockdown, has vaccinated 86.6% of its population with at least one dose.

Australia reported 32,527 cases Sunday with a record of 150,702 in mid-January and a 14% weekly drop. Until the Omicron surge, the record was 2,688 on Oct. 14. Overall, the nation has climbed to 21st in cases with 5,384,444.

Deaths are 6,779 including 17 more Sunday and a 16% weekly increase. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134.

Africa

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

South Africa’s deaths decreased 57% and cases went down 6%.

Overall, South Africa has reported 3,740,398 cases, in 29th worldwide, with 1,206 Saturday. The record was 37,875 during the Omicron surge.

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The nation is 18th in deaths at 100,144, including two Saturday.

South Africa’s vaccination rate is only 36.4% with Egypt at 45.5%.

Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 28,509 ahead of Egypt with 24,522.

The WHO said Thursday infections “tanked” from a peak of more than 308,000 weekly cases to fewer than 20,000 last week.

The United Nations agency reported the level of infection has not been this low April 2020.

“Despite the decreasing infections, it is crucial that countries remain vigilant and maintain surveillance measures, including genomic surveillance to swiftly detect circulating COVID-19 variants, enhance testing and scale up vaccination,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “With the virus still circulating, the risk of new and potentially more deadly variants emerging remains, and the pandemic control measures are pivotal to effective response to a surge in infections.”