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Coronavirus cases spiking at record levels in Europe

By Allen Cone
Coronavirus cases spiking at record levels in Europe
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during a news conference Sunday in Rome to announce a new emergency decree on coronavirus restrictions. Photo by Roberto Mondaldo/EPA-EFE/ANSA pool

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Coronavirus cases are surging at record levels in Europe where the disease has had an up, down and up situation since the pandemic hit early this year with nations adding restrictions to control the spread.

On Sunday, the continent reported 250,433 of the world's 404,793 infections, which is 61.9 percent compared with Saturday's 249,113 of the world's 452,895 infections, which is 45.4%. Europe's percentage of deaths was less, at 29.4 with 1,320 of the world's 4,495 total fatalities after Saturday's 28.9% with 1,617 of the world's 5,599 total fatalities.

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Fueled by cases surging in Europe and the United States, they hit a world-record 490,737 Friday. At this rate, the world is adding 1 million cases every two days compared with every three days the previous week. One week ago Friday, it passed 400,000 for the first time.

The death toll is 1,158,807 and cases hit 43,323,453.

Europe ranks fourth with a total of 8,395,536 cases, compared with 13,155,964 in Asia, 10,641,987 in North America, 9,365,386 in South America, 1,727,897 in Africa, 35,962 in Oceania and none in Antarctica, according to Worldometers.info.

North America has the most deaths with 343,772 compared with 234,389 in Asia, 287,915 in South America, 41,324 in Africa and 959 in Oceania.

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The United States for months has led in deaths, now at 225,212 and cases, 8,632,2007, including a record 83,757 infections Friday then 83,718 Saturday and 77,003 Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins tracking. The nation represents 4% of the world's population but about 20% of the deaths.

Four European nations are in the top 10 for most deaths from fifth to eighth: Britain at 44,896, Italy at 37,338, France at 34,761 and Spain at 34,752.

The nations are reporting record spikes in cases in the past week.

On Sunday, Britain announced 19,790 cases three days after a record 26,688. Also, Britain reported 151 deaths with the daily high 1,172. Last week, Britain's high in death was 241 on Tuesday, which was the highest since 253 on June 5.

No. 6 Italy, which at one time was the world's epicenter and reached 919 in one day, reported 128 deaths Sunday, one day after 151, the highest since 157 on May 21, and a record 21,273 cases.

No. 7 France announced 116 deaths and passed Spain by 9, as well as a record 52,010 cases one day after 45,222 and two other days each of more than 40,000.

Spain reported no data after Friday's 233 deaths and 19,851 cases one day after a record 20,986 infections.

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Russia ranks 13th in deaths, reporting 229, one day after 293 and four days after a record 317. Russia is in fourth place in the world in cases with 1,513,877, including 16,710 two days after a record 17,340.

Two other nations at one time were in the top 10. Belgium is now 18th, reporting 79 deaths, as well as a record 17,709 cases, breaking the record one day earlier of 16,746. On Sunday, No. 20 Germany didn't report any deaths but there were 1,373 cases, far less than the record two days earlier of 13,476 and 10,458 Saturday.

Merkel pleaded with residents to stay at home and reduce social contact.

"We are not powerless against the virus. Our behavior determines how strongly and how quickly it spreads. And the order of the day for all of us is: reduce contacts. Meet a lot fewer people," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast on Saturday.

"Please stay at home, wherever possible, whenever possible," she said. "The pandemic is spreading rapidly again, even faster than at the start of it more than half a year ago."

Germany has 10,111 deaths with only 121 fatalities per million, compared with the world total of 148.3 and the U.S. with 694 and Brazil with 737.

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In Britain's central London, 18 people were arrested Saturday at a protest over coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Last week the capital was placed into tier two lockdown restrictions.

In Italy, cinemas, swimming pools and gyms will be closed starting Monday in the harshest restrictions since the national lockdown ended in May. Also, bars and restaurants will have to close by 6 p.m. though most businesses, including stores, can remain open.

"The stress on the national health system has reached worrying levels," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address on Sunday announcing the new measures.

Conte said he doesn't want another national lockdown.

On Sunday, people in Roma protested against the restrictions.

In Spain, the cabinet imposed a nationwide "state of alarm," which would allow for a curfew. Protests have taken place in Naples and Rome against stricter regulations.

France has extended a curfew of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to more areas, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday. Originally the curfew applied to the Paris region and eight other cities, including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse.

In Asia, about one-third of the deaths are in India. The Far East nation only trails the United States for most cases at 7,864,811 and is third with most deaths at 118,534. On Sunday, India reported 50,129 cases, below the world of 97,894 and 578 deaths, far less than the mark of 1,299.

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Air quality in India is worsening after the government imposed a stringent nationwide lockdown. This led to reduced road traffic and construction activities.

Mainland China, the original epicenter of the world, hasn't reported a death since April 26 and ranked 33rd. The nation added 15 cases Sunday.

South Korea reported 61 cases and no deaths but two Saturday for a total of 457. Japan announced 5 deaths for a total of 1,711 and 699 cases. Japan's record is 49 deaths on May 4.

Iran ranks 10th with most deaths at 32,616, including 296 Sunday, which was below the record of 335 deaths set Friday and Saturday.

In South America, four nations rank in the top 20: Brazil in second, Peru in ninth, Colombia in 11th, Argentina 12th and Chile 15th.

Brazil's cases and deaths have been subsiding. The nation reported 237 deaths Sunday to rise to 157,163 compared with a record of 1,554 on July 29. The nation added 12,904 cases at 5,394,128 in third place compared with a record of 70,869 in July 29.

In North America, the deaths are mainly in the United States and Mexico, which is fourth with 88,924, including 181 late Sunday but ninth in cases.

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Canada has been experiencing a surge in deaths and cases. But the nation ranks 21st in deaths with 9,940, including 24 more Sunday compared with single-digit increases frequently in July through September. Canada's new cases were 2,145 Sunday after a record 4,042 on Oct. 13. Between May 26 and Aug. 30 cases were never more than 1,000.

The travel restrictions among Canada, Mexico and U.S. were extended last week until Nov. 21. It began on March 18.

"To continue to limit the spread of COVID, the US, Mexico, & Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Nov 21," Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a Tweet on Monday. "We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future & support our border communities."

In Oceania, Australia has reported one death in a week to rise to 905 with Zealand remaining at 25 since one on Sept. 16.

On Sunday, New Zealand reported one case for a total of 1,935, which is 49 in one week, and Australia up 14 for 27,513, an increase of 122 in seven days.

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Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews has delayed easing restrictions in Melbourne because of an increase in infections. On Sunday, he said businesses will be closed likely until Nov. 1 pending the outcome of tests connected to an outbreak in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

"This is not anything other than a cautious pause, to wait to get that important information, to get the results of those tests," Andrews said. "Just to rule out whether there ... is more virus there than we think."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to delay the announcement was a "profound disappointment".

Last week, the 5 million Victoria residents were allowed to travel as far as 16 miles from home.

"At some point, you have to move forward and put your public health systems to work in a bid to reclaim the jobs that have been lost, and rescue the livelihoods and peace of mind of so many Victorians who have been affected by the inability to contain the outbreak that led to the second Victorian wave," Morrison said in a statement.

In Africa, deaths are about 1,500 more in a week, led by South Africa with 18,968, including 24 more Sunday followed by Egypt at 6,199 with 12 more. South Africa has the 12th-most cases in the world at 715,868, including 1,622 more Sunday.

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