May 15 (UPI) — The world’s COVID-19 current weekly deaths and cases are a small fraction from peaks in the past two years though there are some hotspots, including Taiwan.
The seven-day moving average for fatalities was 1,566, the lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 compared with a record 14,264 on Jan. 31, 2021, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. And cases are 546,161 compared with the mark of 3,409,094 on Jan. 25 this year during the Omicron variant surge.
The record low for cases since the beginning of 2021 is 359,840 on Feb. 20, 2021.
In all, 521,077,873 cases have been reported worldwide, including 3,729,680 in the past week, for a 1% increase on Sunday. And deaths rose by 10,960 over seven days, a 20% drop, for a cumulative 6,288,098.
Some nations are experiencing case surges, including Taiwan rising 386,864, the third-most in the world behind the United States and Germany, a 96% increase. Also spiking: Japan 59%, Chile 41%, Singapore 41%, Portugal 36%.
Big deaths increases are 55% in South Africa, 21% in Spain and 18% in Brazil.
Asia had the biggest weekly increase in cases at 21% for a cumulative 149,999,859, followed by Oceania at 16% for 7,942,867, Africa at 14% for 12,042,400, South America at 7% for 57,136,486, North America at 1% for 99,625,662 but Europe going down 19% for 194,330,079.
In deaths, Africa’s deaths rose by 59% for a cumulative 254,319 with South America at 7% for 1,296,523. Declining were Europe 34% for 1,830,656, North America 24% for 1,467,234, Asia 24% for 1,427,939, Oceania 0.3% for 11,413..
Billionaire Bill Gates, who contracted coronavirus last week, warns the pandemic isn’t over yet.
“We’re still at risk of this pandemic generating a variant that would be even more transmissive and even more fatal,” the Microsoft co-founder and public health advocate told the Financial Times one week ago. “It’s not likely, I don’t want to be a voice of doom and gloom, but it’s way above a 5% risk that this pandemic, we haven’t even seen the worst of it.”
He noted a surge linked to the BA.2 Omicron variant
With COVID-related deaths declining, leading White House COVID czar Dr. Ashish Jha said in April that he’s “not overly concerned right now” about BA.2.
In all, more than 11.7 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 79% of the population, ahead of Latin America and Asia-Pacific at 78%, Europe at 69%, Middle East 56% and Africa at 21%, according to The New York Times tracking. None of these percentages changed in the past week.
Taiwan, which is officially the Republic of China and a separate nation from the People’s Republic of China, reported a record 76,214 cases Saturday then 68,769 Sunday. Taiwan, with a population of 23.6 million, has768,543 infections though there were only 17,050 at the start of this year and 121 at the end of 2020.
Until a surge last month, the record daily cases was 543 on May 19, 2021.
Taiwan also has a total of 1,068 deaths, including a record 40 Saturday then 19 Sunday.
Taiwan had a zero-tolerance approach to the virus untul the surge but now has decided to have the island live with the virus.
Businesses are relatively unaffected by the outbreak.
“In the last two years, people enjoyed a very free life here — they lived normally and went to work normally. So we don’t like city lockdowns or mass testing, and we don’t think it is useful to control the spread of the virus,” Chen Chien-jen, who served as Taiwan’s vice president between 2016 and 2020, told CNN.
Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang described the situation in Mainland China as “cruel” and not a model for Taiwan to follow.
Mainland China, with the world’s largest population at 1.5 billion, still has a zero tolerance for the virus, including in Shanghai which has been locked down for six weeks in most places.
Shanghai officials announced Sunday plans for Monday to gradually open malls, supermarkets, restaurants and barbershops.
Daily new cases in the city dropped to 1,369, its lowest since March 24. Symptomatic cases decreased to 166 from a day earlier, while three elderly patients with existing medical ailments died.
Last week, Beijing officials denied rumors of a lockdown but encouraged people to stay at home in the capital city.
In Mainland China, there are a total of 221,804 cases, including 239 Sunday with 5,659 17 days ago, which is the second-highest ever with the record 14,108 on Feb. 12, 2020. Deaths are 5,209, including three Sunday for 87th behind Palestine with 5,353. From January 2021 until this March there were no deaths reported. At the end of last year, the death count was 4,636. The most recent number of deaths reported: 52.
Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.
Hong Kong reported 259 cases Sunday for a total of 1,208,506 with the record 56,827 on March 10, and one fatality for a cumulative 9,361, 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 eased social distancing.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea reported 25,434 cases with a record 621,328 March 17. Deaths were 48 with a record 470 on March 24 while the mark until this year was 109 on Dec. 23.
South Korea added 252,293 cases in the past week, which is seventh-most in the world with a 5% weekly decline. Weekly deaths were 11th in the world with 372, a 25% decline, behind No. 1 United States, No. 2 Germany. The nation is eighth in the world at 17,782,061 cases with only 630,748 reported through the end of last year.
Deaths are 23,709 in 39th.
The first six fatalities were reported Friday with 15 between Friday and Saturday night. The total is 42, according to KCNA, and the total number of cases to 820,620, with 324,550 receiving medical care.
Worldometers.info is not listing data from North Korea.
North Korea reportedly hasn’t imported any coronavirus vaccines.
India’s deaths are at pandemic lows.
On Sunday, India reported 2,487 cases for a total of 43,121,599 in second behind the United States, a gain of 22,856 in one week, which is a 2% decrease. The daily record was 414,438 May 6, 2021, and the recent low was 949 on April 14.
India, which has the second-highest population in the world at 1.4 billion, has a total of 524,214 deaths, including 13 Sunday. In the past week, there were 150 fatalities. Single deaths were reported last month with zero the last time March 24, 2020, with the record 6,148 last June when the Delta variant emerged there.
Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is ninth in deaths at 156,458, including five Sunday and 19th in cases at 6,050,776 with 257 Sunday. The records are 64,718 infections in February and 2,069 last July.
Iran is 11th in deaths at 141,224, gaining eight Sunday.
In the past week, Vietnam’s cases dropped 25%. The Asian nation added 1,594 cases Sunday with the record 203,036 in March. The nation is 12th overall in the world with 10,696,630.
And deaths are 43,065 in 24th with none reported Sunday.
Turkey is 10th in cases at 15,053,168 including 1,407 Saturday but 19th in deaths at 98,890, adding five Sunday.
Following is the rank order of some nations’ vaccination rates in Asia: Mainland China 91.6%, Hong Kong 89.8%, South Korea 88.8%, Singapore 88.2%, Malaysia 84.7%, Vietnam 84.3%, Japan 82.1%, Iran 76.8%, Israel 76.5%, Indonesia 73.9%, India 73.1%, Turkey 69.2% and Philippines 67.6%.
Four nations are in the top 10 for deaths: Russia fourth with 377,571 including 99 Sunday; Britain seventh at 176,708 with no data on weekends; Italy eighth at 165,244 with 66 Sunday and France 10th at 147,257 with no data Saturday.
Germany is 13th in deaths at 147,907 including 12 Sunday but fifth in cases at 25,780,226, including 5,717 Sunday.
Germany had the second-most cases in the world in the past week with 436,513 but dropped 24%. And its deaths in the past week were No. 2 with 993, though a 2% drop.
Italy had the sixth-most in the past week, 261,953, dropping 14%, and is at 17,030,147 in ninth overall in the world, adding 36,042 Saturday.
France is eighth worldwide in the past week with 232,705, declining 5%, and 30,459 Saturday for a total of 29,160,802 in fourth. The record is 501,635 Feb. 1.
Russia reported 98 deaths Wednesday, the least since 79 on Sept 20, 2020, as well as 4,956 cases Sunday in seventh overall at 18,260,293.
Russia is lagging the world in vaccinations with 55.5% 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 60% and Czech Republic’s is 65.1%.
Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated. In the European Union, it’s 76.1%, including 87.5% in Spain, 85.1% in Italy, 83.5% in France, 83.0% in Denmark, 77.6% in Germany, 77.4% in Netherlands, 76.7% in Austria.
Most European nations have dropped their restrictions.
Sweden’s death rate of 1,846 per million is among the lowest in Europe, despite the country refusing to impose strict lockdowns. Germany is at 1,636, Netherlands at 1,296, Denmark at 1,078, Finland 771, Norway 557 and Iceland least at 347.
“The lesson from Sweden is to invest in your population’s health and have less inequality,” Dr. Devi Sridhar, the chairman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told The Telegraph.
The United States and Mexico are in the top 10 for most deaths.
The United States’ deaths dropped 28% in one week, which was No. 1 in the world at 1,643, but cases were up 2% with a world-high 543,050. On Saturday, the United States reported 55 deaths and 28,740 cases though only eight states reported data. Totals are 1,026,646 fatalities and 84,209,473 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 909,610 on Jan. 13.
The U.S. on Thursday had 146,388 cases, the most since 155,482 on Feb. 11, then 100,828 and 102,506, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The seven-day moving average is 87,831.
Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 324,465 with no data reported since Monday, an increase of 115 and the record 1,417 in late January a year ago. The nation’s cases are 21st at 5,745,652
Canada’s cases decreased 21% in one week with 1,575 Saturday for 31st with 3,821,346. The record was 55,359 in mid-January. Canada’s deaths are down 2% in one week and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 40,228 including 11 Saturday and 177 Thursday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.
Canada has low rates per million with deaths at 1,049 and cases at 99,622. The United States is at 3,068 deaths per million compared with the world at 806.7 and 251,659 cases per million and the world at 66,343.
High on the world list in cases per million: Iceland 540,134, Denmark 510,561, Netherlands 468,859, Austria 462,804, France 441,914 and Israel 440,07.
Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 85.68%. The United States is at 77% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 67.2%.
Like in the United States, most Canadian provinces have shifted to reporting COVID-19 data weekly, a majority Thursdays.
In Mexico, all 32 states are listed as “green” on the four-tiered traffic-light system on monitoring and the nation plans to end updates.
In the top 10 for most deaths are Brazil in second at 664,920 and Peru sixth with 213,023. Colombia is 12th at 139,821.
Brazil reported 13 deaths Saturday with a record 4,211 early last April. Brazil’s deaths rose 18% and cases were up 12% with 17,355 most recently, for a total of 30,682,094 in third. The record is 286,050 in early February.
Peru has the world’s highest death rate at 6,297 per million people, which is nearly 900 more than second-place Bulgaria, and 10 Saturday.
Colombia is now only reporting deaths weekly.
Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 92.2% with Argentina 90.5%, Peru 87.2%, Brazil 86.5% and Colombia at 83.6%.
Australia reported 42,171 cases Sunday with a record of 150,702 in mid-January and an 18% weekly increase with 337,812, the fourth highest in the world. Until the Omicron surge, the record was 2,688 on Oct. 14. Overall, the nation is at 17th in cases with 6,593,795.
Deaths are 7,794, including 21 more Sunday. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134.
“If you measure success in terms of mortality, there’s absolutely no doubt that Australia is one of the success stories among [other places like] New Zealand and Taiwan,” Dr. Greg Dore an epidemiologist with the Kirby Institute at the University of South Wales Sydney, told the BBC.
Australia’s deaths per million is 299 and New Zealand is at 185. Taiwan’s rate is 45.
With coronavirus surging in Australia during Omicron, the nation is living with the disease after widespread restrictions though its vaccination rate is high at 86.8%.
In a sample survey of 100,000 people by the national broadcaster ABC, COVID was a long way down the list of issues on voter’s minds.
“I think Australians are so tired of hearing about it that they’re trying to get back on with their lives,” aid Dr. Andrea Carson, associate professor of journalism and political science at La Trobe University, told the BBC.
In New Zealand, cases increased 0.7% 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 5,828 cases for a total of 1,043,683 with the record 24,106 March 2.
The nation added 14 deaths for a total of 923 with 68 at the start of March and an 84.3% vaccination rate.
South Africa, where the Omicron variant first emerged worldwide on Nov. 24, is reporting a surge as winter arrives with a 55% weekly deaths increase and a 14% rise in cases.
Overall, South Africa has reported 3,887,449 cases, in 30th worldwide, with 8,015 Saturday. The record was 37,875 during the Omicron surge.
The nation is 18th in deaths at 100,516, including nine Saturday.
South Africa’s vaccination rate is only 36.1% with Egypt at 46.1% and Tunisia at 60.7%.
Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 28,575 ahead of Egypt with 24,613.
Africa’s previous four pandemic waves have occurred around mid- and end-year
“This uptick in cases is an early warning sign which we are closely monitoring,” Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, the World Health Organization’s director of emergency preparedness in Africa, said in a United Nations release. “Now is the time for countries to step up preparedness and ensure that they can mount an effective response in the event of a fresh pandemic wave.”