Pedestrians wear masks as they cross an intersection in Wanchai district, Hong Kong on October 14. Despite the recent scrapping of mandatory hotel quarantine upon arriving in the city, restrictions are still in place such as the mandatory wearing of a face mask at all times in public areas among other numerous locations. Cases roses 2% in the past week. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The coronavirus situation continues to ease worldwide with a weekly 19% cases and 15% deaths drop, though two new Omicron subvariants have emerged, including in the United States.
Like last week, cases are rising significantly in only Japan and South Korea over seven days among nations with at least 25,000 infections. Hong Kong also reported a small gain last week after dropping the week before.
The the World Health Organization COVID-19 advisory group has held off on designating XBB and BQ.1 as specific variants of concern.
"The two sublineages remain part of Omicron, which continues to be a variant of concern," the group said.
They have been detected in 35 countries with a 1.3% global prevalence.
"BQ.1 is showing a significant growth advantage over other circulating Omicron sublineages in many settings, including Europe and the U.S., and therefore warrants close monitoring," WHO said. "At this time there is no epidemiologic data to suggest an increase in disease severity."
Regarding XBB: "There has been a broad increase in prevalence of XBB in regional genomic surveillance, but it has not yet been consistently associated with an increase in new infections. While further studies are needed, the current data do not suggest there are substantial differences in disease severity for XBB infections."
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has reclassified the Omicron variant sub-lineage BQ.1 as a variant of interest (VOI).
In the United States, BQ.1 is projected for the weekend ending Saturday to be responsible for 14% of cases and BQ.1.1 is responsible for 13.1%, according to the CDC. Omicron accounts for 100% of all new cases.
The CDC noted they are likely to be resistant to monoclonal antibody drug bebtelovimab, tixagevimab plus cilgavimab (Evusheld) for BQ.1.1. Nirmatrelvir, remdesivir and molnupiravir (Paxolovid) are expected to be active against these subvariants.
"You know, as we know, this virus is constantly changing," President Joe Biden said at a briefing Tuesday. New variants have emerged here in the U.S. and around the world.
"And the weather is getting colder. People will spend more time indoors. And contagious viruses, like COVID, are going to spread considerably more easily."
The seven-day world moving average for cases was 333,797, the lowest since October 2020. In one week infections declined to 2,335,579 with the cumulative 635,449,183 Sunday. Cases on Sunday were 175,439, the lowest number since 176,257 July 6, 2020,
Saturday were 223,338, the lowest number since 133,451 July 5, 2020, with 227,246 Saturday. The last time cases were above 1 million was July 31.
The seven-day moving average for deaths was down to 1,267, the fewest since March 22, 2020, 11 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, according to Worldometers.info. In one week deaths declined to 8,874 with the cumulative 6,593,601 so far Sunday.
Daily deaths worldwide dropped to 424 Sunday, the least since 385 March 12, 2020, with 580 Saturday.
Some nations do not report data on weekends. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has gone to weekly updates.
The records were 3,845,409 cases on Jan. 21, during the height of the Omicron subvariant, and 16,852 deaths on Jan. 21, 2021, when the Delta subvariant was at its peak.
No countries reported increases in both deaths and cases in the past week.
Germany again posted the most weekly cases, 398,437, but it was a 29% drop, four weeks after a 60% gain, and the second-most deaths at 1,062, with no change two weeks after a 88% gain.
Japan was second in cases at 272,236 with a 18% gain though deaths dropped 11% to 364, which was ninth overall.
South Korea's infections rose 36% with 233,210 in fourth place and deaths were 157, a 5% drop, in 13th.
Hong Kong's cases rose 2% to 38,666 in one week in 11th place as deaths were only 51 in 28th, a 6% decline.
Chile's infections rose 21% to 41,905 in ninth place with deaths down 5% to 117 in 16th.
Other case decreases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were Taiwan 11% at No. 3 243,770, France 36% at No. 4 224,810, Italy 18% at No. 6 208,501, United States 24% at No. 7 186,832, Russia 27% at No. 8 52,659, Austria 39% at No. 10 39,432, Singapore 32% at No. 12 36,811, Brazil 2% at No. 13 36,302, Australia 8% at No. 14 29,952.
Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with increases in the past week: Brazil 2% at No. 6 478, Taiwan 6% at No. 8 438, Indonesia 35% at No. 14 155, Hungary 19% at No. 15 140.
Other decreases were Britain 29% at No. 3 709, Russia 10% at No. 4 580, France 11% at No. 7 462,
Canada 8% at No. 10 312, Philippines 5% at No. 11 253, Spain 13% at No. 12 189.
In the past week, Asia reported 36.9% of the world's cases and it rose 5% for a cumulative 193,618,657, according to Worldometers.info. The continent has 59% percent of the world's population.
Also increase were Africa 27% for 12,672,091 and South America at 12% for 64,426,491.
Decreases were Europe 33% for a world-high 234,324,968, Oceania 28% for 12,614,235, North America 23% for 117,792,020.
Two continents reported an increase in deaths: Africa 196% for 257,850 and South America 15% for 64,426,491. Decreasing were North America 28% for 1,552,379, Oceania 23% for 21,579, Europe 17% for a world-high 1,941,670, Asia 6% for 1,487,393,
The United States leads with 1,095,199 fatalities and 99,341,447 infections. The nation also holds the world record for daily cases at 907,019 on Jan. 7. Brazil is second in deaths at 688,143, including 11 Saturday and fifth in cases at 34,865,218, including 901 most recently, the lowest since the start of the pandemic.
India is second in cases at 44,62,266, including 1,604 Sunday after 862 Monday, the lowest since early in the pandemic, and third in deaths at 529,016 including 17 Sunday with single deaths reported in April and zero the last time on March 24, 2020.
India has the daily deaths record at 4,529 on May 18, 2021, with no adjustments from regions.
In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 330,392 and 39 Saturday, Peru sixth with 216,972 including 30 Saturday, Britain seventh with 193,673, Italy eighth with 193,673 including 76 Saturday, Indonesia ninth with 158,597 including 26 Sunday and France 10th with 156,832.
In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 36,809,617 including 16,456 Sunday, Germany fourth with 35,571,130, Britain seventh with 23,898,489, Italy eighth with 23,531,023 including 26,799 Saturday, Japan ninth with 22,273,251 including 40,611 Sunday, Russia 10th with 21,423,725 including 6,803 Sunday.
In Japan, cases have been surging as restrictions ease. Japan's seven-day moving case average is 38,891 compared with 25,618 Oct. 11 with the daily record 255,316 Aug. 18.
Tokyo's Shibuya district is bracing for the return of large crowds of Halloween partygoers this weekend.
"There will undoubtedly be an increase of people this year," Toshiyuki Ono, 81, who heads a Shibuya store owners' association told Koyodo News on Wednesday. "Young people tired of having restrained themselves will let loose."
Japan has 371 deaths per million, which is 145th in the nation, with the world at 844.9 and Peru No. 1 at 6,441. In cases, Japan's rate is 177,356 per million in 90th place with the world 81,515 and Austria the highest among large countries at 599,635 with France 561,004, Portugal 54,420 and Denmark 537,408. Japan's population is 125 million.
South Korea cases' seven-day average is 36,045, compared with 20,168 on Oct. 13, the lowest since mid-July. In late June it was around 7,000. The daily record was 621,328 on March 17.
Last week, U.S. Forces Korea reported its lowest weekly count of new COVID-19 cases so far this year at 28. USFK, which has about 28,500 troops thousands more Defense Department civilian employees, contractors and family members, reported 1,599 cases from Jan. 4-10, its highest weekly level this year.
China, where COVID-19 emerged, has reported 5,226 deaths. Before a spike in April, it was 4,636, which stayed at that number since early February 2021. On Sunday, China reported 401 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.
In the central city of Zhengzhou, workers broke out of Apple's largest iPhone assembly factory after an outbreak forced staff to lock down the Foxconn workplace. The plant employs 200,000 the plant.
Hong Kong, like China, has adopted a "zero tolerance" for coronavirus with strong restrictions eased, including hotel quarantine for arrivals from other nations.
Hong Kong reported 12 deaths and 5,210cases Sunday with the record 79,876 on March 3.
The city is preparing to welcome visitors for major business events.
"I think these series of events where local and people from overseas will participate will firstly show the important message that Hong Kong is open for business and that our advantages are obvious," Christopher Hui Ching-yu, secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury told a radio program.
In the United States, the CDC has classified 2.3% of counties, districts and territories with a "high" category level, compared with 21.9% "medium" and 75.8% "low." In "high" locations, masks are urged indoors with areas in scattefred places in the United Stated.
In its weekly update Thursday, the CDC reported 265,893 cases one week after 261,315, the lowest since 226,498 April 13. The record was 5,582,954Jan. 19.
And the deaths average fell to 2,649, one week after 2,591, the lowest since 2,406 July 6 and the record 23,375 Jan. 13, 2021.
New weekly hospitalizations in the United States for one week were 3,249, which is a 1% weekly gain. A total of 5,4445,602 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception with a population of 332 million. The U.S. total reported Sunday was 26,997, which is 3.84% capacity, and far below the record 160,113 (20.6%) on Jan. 20, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
On Thursday in its weekly report, the CDC said the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate was 91.1% with completed primary service at 78.1% and updated booster doses 8.6%. The full population rates are 80.1% for one shot, 68.4% for completed primary and 7.3% updated booster 5 and older.
The CDC switched from a breakdown of one and two boosters to one with the updated bivalent booster.
"For Americans over five years of age who are fully vaccinated, our nation's health experts recommend that they get the updated COVID vaccine once a year," Biden said Tuesday before getting his updated vaccine. "In other words, it's just like the flu shot.
"Now, some high-risk people, such as the elderly and immunocompromised, may need more than one COVID shot. But for most Americans, one COVID shot each year will be all they need.
"And if you get it, you're protected. And if you don't, you're putting yourself and other people at unnecessary risk."