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COVID-19 deaths surge past 770,000 as no European nation in top 4

By
Allen Cone
Italian motorists wait in line for their swab samples to be taken for COVID-19 testing by health workers at the drive-in of the San Giovanni hospital in Rome as recommended by the Ministry of Health for all of those who returned from areas at risk. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPa-EFE
Italian motorists wait in line for their swab samples to be taken for COVID-19 testing by health workers at the drive-in of the San Giovanni hospital in Rome as recommended by the Ministry of Health for all of those who returned from areas at risk. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPa-EFE

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Coronavirus deaths in Europe have stabilized and case spikes, the result of vacationers traveling elsewhere, are substantially lower than the pandemic situation in Latin America, the United States and India.

At one time Europe was the epicenter of the outbreak, occupying top positions for deaths, after it originated in China.

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Britain, Italy, France and Spain remain in the top 10 for most deaths but those nations no longer occupy the top four positions.

On Friday, India moved past Britain into fourth place, behind No. 1 United States, No. 2 Brazil and No. 3 Mexico.

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Italy, which at one time was the world's epicenter, has slid to sixth place as France is now in seventh and Spain in eighth. Some other former European nations have fallen out of the top 10 -- Belgium is 15th, Germany 16th and Netherlands 18th. Russia, meanwhile, is in 11th place.

The continent has recorded 203,124 deaths, which comprises 26 percent of the world total of 772,759, according to Wordlometers.info. And Europe's case total is 3,165,263 compared with the world figure of 21,818,117.

On Saturday, only 285 deaths were reported of the world total of 5,410. And cases were 19,745 of 260,409.

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European nations individually have reported only a few deaths each day after more than 1,000 a few months ago. Britain added five deaths Sunday compared with a high of 1,166 on April 21. Italy, which was in first place early in the pandemic, reported four fatalities after a high of 921 on March 27. France added four deaths Saturday vs. a high of 1,437 on April 15. Spain, which last reported 12 deaths on Friday, had a high of 961 on April 2.

Early in the pandemic, the United States and Europe had a similar progression. After one month, the U.S. had 38,146 deaths compared with 47,333 in Europe. But since then, the U.S. has had a steeper curve. Over the past 50 days, the U.S. has risen by 44,000 deaths compared to Europe with 15,000.

European nations enacted strong lockdowns and travel restrictions. But numbers have been spiking as residents vacation elsewhere.

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The European Union has banned travel to several nations, including the United States. On July 1, the European Union opened up to outside travelers for the first time since it closed its borders on March 17.

Starting Saturday, Britain expanded its 14-day quarantine rule, including France and the Netherlands, because of rising cases there. Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office also is advising against non-essential international travel.

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Earlier, French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that coronavirus infections in the country have been accelerating twice as much as three weeks ago. France had 3,015 cases Sunday, second to Russia's 4,969 in Europe.

The BBC reported about 160,000 British tourists were thought to be in France.

With a rise in cases in Italy, Italy's Minister of Health Roberto Speranza posted on Facebook discos will be closed, including outdoors, and face masks will be required from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. where there is a "risk of assembly" as part of a new ordinance to be published Monday.

Italy reported 479 new cases Sunday.

"The numbers of contagion in Italy, although among the lowest in Europe, are growing," he wrote. "We cannot frustrate the sacrifices made in past months. Our priority must be to reopen schools in September safely.

In Spain, business leaders are fearful of a second lockdown.

Cases and deaths are accelerating in the Western Hemisphere.

On Saturday, Brazil reported 726 deaths to rise to 107,297 as well as 39,937 cases at 3,327,832 -- figures that are only second to the United States.

Forty-seven percent of Brazilians think President Jair Bolsonaro bears "no responsibility at all" for the country's toll although he has downplayed the seriousness of the disease, according to a new Datafolha poll. Bolsonaro himself has tested positive for COVID-19 and claims to have taken anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine though studies have discounted effectiveness and possible danger.

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Mexico reported 635 deaths on Saturday and has risen up the world list to third place.

On Friday, the United States, Canada and Mexico extended their border closures except for essential travel through Sept. 20. Restrictions have been in place since March 21.

"We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19. Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21," Chad Wolf, the acting U.S. Homeland Security secretary posted on Twitter.

South America has recorded 176,065 deaths. Peru has 26,281 deaths, including 219 Saturday and 206 on Sunday, and is in ninth place. Colombia is in 12th place and Chile is 14th.

Canada is in 17th place at 9,026 deaths, including an additional four Saturday and two on Sunday, as well as 122,087 cases, including 237 more Saturday and 198 on Sunday.

Canadian officials are preparing for a so-called "fall peak" of COVID-19 cases. They say it could threaten the public health-care system.

"Continuing to build up capacity across our health, public health and laboratory systems while urging all Canadians to continue with public health practices will give us the best chance of keeping the epidemic on a slow burn, while preparing us in the event of a need to rapidly ramp up response measures for possible larger resurgence," Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday.

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The pandemic has generally subsided in Asia where it originated in Wuhan, China.

Mainland China has not reported a death since April 27 and its total of 4,634 has slid to 27th in the world. Its case total of 84,827, including 19 more Sunday, is 33rd.

India has risen to fourth place in deaths at 51,045, including 961 more Sunday, and is third in cases at 2,647,316 with a rise of 58,108.

Despite the high death toll, India has only 37 deaths per million compared with 99 worldwide and 522 in the United States.

Iran is 10th in the world for most deaths and reported an additional 147 Sunday.

Some other Asian countries have been alarmed at a spike in cases, but they are a fraction of the increases in world hot spots.

South Korea reported an additional 279 cases Sunday, which is the highest since 448 on March 27. The nation has not had a death since seven days ago for a total of 305.

A spike in cases has been traced back to a religious service at Sarang-Jeil church in Seoul where 249 members have tested positive. All 4,066 members of the church must be tested for coronavirus and almost 2,000 have been ordered to self-quarantine.

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On Saturday, the nation reimposed social-distancing measures.

In Japan, cases and deaths are surging.

On Sunday, 1,238 new cases were reported, which is the third day in a row they have been four digits.

The death toll stands at 1,088 with three more deaths. It passed 1,000 on July 29.

The total number of deaths in Asia stands at 120,148 with an increase of 1,487.

In Oceania, New Zealand and Australia has experienced outbreaks.

New Zealand's death toll has stood at 22 since one fatality on May 28. But cases have surged after only 32 were reported in July. But in August it has surged from 1,562 to 16,22, including an additional 13 on Sunday. Twelve of those cases were in the Auckland community with none traveling outside the region recently.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland's 1.5 million residents will remain under a level three lockdown for another 12 days. The rest of the country will stay under level two restrictions with gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people.

For 100 days there were no community transmissions in the country.

Australia reported 17 deaths to rise to 396 as well as 252 cases. Its high was 21 on Wednesday.

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Victoria, where most of the deaths have occurred, is in an extended lockdown through Sept. 13 as its death toll passed 300, including 17 more Sunday.

In Africa, deaths increased by 295 Sunday to 25,678. South Africa leads the continent with 11,839, including 162 on Sunday and 10,210 total one week ago. Egypt followed with 5,160 deaths, including an additional 19 Sunday and 17 on Saturday.

South Africa has the fifth-most most additional cases in the world, including 3,692 Sunday.

However, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday the virus has appeared to have peaked and most restrictions have been lifted, including travel and small family gatherings, as well as the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

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