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Brazil COVID-19 deaths, cases surge as pandemic subsides globally

By Allen Cone
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Brazil COVID-19 deaths, cases surge as pandemic subsides globally
Passengers walk after disembarking from a train at Luz station in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday. In one week, Brazil had a greater increased percentage in deaths and cases than worldwide. Photo by Sebastiao Moreira/EPA-EFE

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Brazil's coronavirus deaths and cases are surging amid slow vaccine administration to control the pandemic compared with other nations worldwide.

The South American nation has approximately 10% of the worldwide total 2,542,760 deaths and 114,681,055 cases from COVID-19, according to tracking Sunday by Worldometers.info. The increases Sunday were 6,169 deaths, the lowest since 5,863 Nov. 2, and 311,706 cases.

Brazil has the second-most fatalities with 255,018 behind the United States at 513,091, according to Johns Hopkins, but ahead of Mexico with 185,715, India with 156,938 and Britain with 122,849. Those are the only nations with more than 100,000 deaths. Brazil is third in cases with 10,517,232 behind the U.S. with 28,561,078 and India with 11,096,731.

The increases have been greater in Brazil, which added 8,256 deaths at 3.4% in one week through Saturday compared with the world gaining 63,266 at 2.6%. Cases grew 378,086 at 3.7% vs. 2.485,242 at 2.2% in the world.

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For the past five days through Saturday, Brazil has reported more than 1,000 deaths, including a record 1,582 Thursday with 1,275 Saturday with Sunday's increase 755. The previous record was 1,554 on July 29.

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Cases were more than 59,000 for days in a row through Saturday, including 67,878 Thursday, behind the record 87,134 Jan. 7. Sunday's increase was 34,027.

During this surge, the nation has been dealing with a variant that is three times more contagious than earlier strains that has overwhelmed hospitals across the country.

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The Brazilian health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said the variant has forced a "new stage of the pandemic" and "that is the reality we're living today in Brazil," he said.

The nation's capital, Brasilia, entered a lockdown on Sunday, including a daily 8 p.m. ban on alcohol sales. Only essential services, including supermarkets, banks and pharmacies, and places of worship will be allowed to open.

Some nations have instituted a travel ban, including the U.S.

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And Brazil is dealing with two other aspects: a slow rollout of vaccines and President Jair Bolsonaro downplaying the illness though he contracted it himself.

So far the nation of 213.6 million people has administered 8 million vaccines, which equates to 3.86 per 100 people compared with 21.98 in the United States and 30.62 in Britain.

On Friday, Brazil signed a deal with Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech for 20 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine with some to arrive this week though it hasn't been approved by local regulators.

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Brazil had been distributing CoronaVac, which is manufactured in China, with a contract for up to 200 million doses.

Last month, Brazil began vaccinating medical professionals and older people.

Bolsonaro has said he does not intend to be vaccinated and has questioned its worthiness.

And he has criticized the use of masks, during his weekly address Thursday on Facebook saying that wearing them could lead to headaches, difficulty concentrating and a "decreased perception of happiness."

Other Latin American nations have struck deals with China's vaccines and the Sputnik V in Russia.

Brazil is among four nations from South America in the top 15 for most deaths. Colombia is in 12th with 59,766, Argentina in 13th with 51,965 and Peru in 15th with 46,494.

Overall, the continent has reported 466,839 deaths and 17,991,225 cases.

Europe has the most deaths at 813,207 and cases at 34,147,139.

Besides Britain in fifth, No. 6 Italy is at 97,699, No. 7 France at 86,454, No. 8 Russia at 86,122, No. 9 Germany at 70,625 and No. 10 Spain at 69,142. Also in the top 20 is Poland in 16th with 43,769.

Europe has had a strong rollout of vaccines, including those from U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, U.S.-based Moderna and AstraZeneca, developed with Oxford University in Britain.

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Behind Britain in vaccine administration are Spain at 7.76 per 100 people, Germany at 7.71, Italy at 6.96, France at 6.91, Russia at 1.5. Poland is 8.61.

Britain's cases have been subsiding with 6,035 announced Sunday, the lowest since 4,662 on Sept. 28 and compared with the record 68,053 on Jan. 8. Britain reported a high of 1,820 deaths on Jan. 20 with 290 Saturday.

On Thursday, the chief medical officers lowered their COVID-19 alert level from 5 to 4 with a gradual reduction in pressure on the health service.

Britain remains in a lockdown but Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out restrictions being imposed locally if needed.

On Saturday, Italy announced tighter restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions. Basilicata and Molise are in the strictest red zone. It was the first time since January any region was that high.

"Further mitigation measures are urgently needed across the nation, and timely mitigation-containment measures are needed in the areas of greatest spread to prevent health services being overwhelmed," according to a report by Italy's health ministry and the Higher Health Institute.

Italy reported 192 deaths Sunday, compared with a record 993 Dec. 3, and 17,455 cases after a record 40,896 on Nov. 13.

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France has a nationwide 6 p.m. curfew with Dunkirk in the northern region last week instituting stronger measures, including wearing masks in urban areas and only travel for essential reasons. Nice's beaches are closed this weekend and next weekend.

France reported 122 deaths and 19,952 cases Sunday. On Nov. 13, there were 932 deaths, which was the most since a record of 1,437 in April. The cases record is 86,852 on Oct. 31.

Travelers from France's northeastern Moselle region to Germany will be required to show a negative test.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering the easement of restrictions and will meet with the 16 state leaders Wednesday. She has relief on a threshold of incidents per 100,000, which was first 50 and lowered to 35. On Friday, the seven-day level was 62.6.

Germany is in ninth place in deaths, including 98 Sunday after moving from 14th in late December with 30,502. Germany posted a single-day record of 1,244 deaths and 31,553 cases in December with 6,117 infections reported Sunday.

Russia announced 439 deaths and 11,534 cases Sunday after records of 635 fatalities and 29,935 infections on Dec. 4, ranking fourth overall in cases with 4,234,720.

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In Spain, several regions are continuing most of their restrictions but doing some easing.

On Monday, the worst-hit Catalonia will allow malls and stores up to 4,300 square feet in size to open at 30% capacity between Monday and Friday.

In Valencia, sidewalk cafés will be allowed to be open until 6 p.m. starting Monday. Stores can be open two hours later until 8 p.m. with 50% capacity.

Spain, which doesn't report data on the weekend, announced 329 deaths Friday, lower than a winter peak of 766 Feb. 6 and a record 996 April 2. Cases reported were 8,341, behind the mark of 35,118 in January.

In Asia, India is the only nation in the top 10. On Sunday, it reported 113 deaths compared with a record 1,283 deaths. And cases, which peaked at 97,859, were down to 16,488.

But scientists are warning of a spike.

"We have become more and more lackadaisical about physical distancing," biologist Satyajit Rath, who was formerly a senior scientist at the National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, told The Deccan ZHerald. "The 'first wave' has never quite 'receded', which means that there has always been enough transmission going on in places, communities and neighborhoods from which new local outbreaks of transmission can and will emerge."

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They concerned about seven with Maharashtra, a population of 307.7 million that includes Mumbai and is in the west, having the highest number of active cases.

Asia has recorded 398,320 deaths and is fourth among the continents, and 25,004,501 cases, which is third.

Though the virus originated in mainland China, the nation has reported only a few deaths since April and stands at 4,636 behind Lebanon in 52nd. China added six cases Sunday.

China has given conditional approval for a new vaccine that is a single dose. The U.S. Food & Drug administration on Saturday gave U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson emergency authorization for its single-shot vaccine.

South Korea began vaccinations Friday with Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer on Saturday. Social distancing measures and bans on gatherings of five or more people were extended until March 14.

Despite a later vaccine start than other nations, South Korea will achieve herd immunity in the fall, Prime Minister Chung Sye-k told the BBC last week.

"You know that Koreans are the master of speed," he said. "It's not an easy goal to achieve but we aim to complete the first set of vaccinations on 70% of our population by the end of the third quarter in September. I believe it's possible."

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South Korea's record is 40 deaths on Dec. 29 with eight announced Sunday for a total of 1,603, as well as 355 cases, behind the mark of 1,241 on Dec. 25.

Japan has begun inoculating an initial group of health workers. And people aged 65 or older will start to be vaccinated in April. Japan has reported 7,910 deaths, including 30 Sunday with the record 120. Cases are 999 with the record 7,882.

On Sunday, the Philippines receives its first batch of vaccines and President Rodrigo Duterte will not be among the first to be vaccinated Monday. The vaccines were donated by China.

The Philippines, a nation of 110.5 million, has recorded 12,318 deaths and 576,352 cases.

Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has the highest vaccination rate of 88.4 doses administered for every 100 people. Its death toll is 5,738 with 774,479 cases.

North America has the second-most deaths of the continents, 759,423, behind Europe, and the second-most cases with 33,561,710, around 500,000 behind Europe.

All but around 26,000 of the total deaths in North America are in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Mexico reported 468 deaths after a record 1,803 Jan. 21. Cases were 2,810 after the record 22,339 Jan. 21. The high last week was 1,273 Wednesday.

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Mexico has a low vaccination rate, 1.78 of the population, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin administering them.

The coast state of Quintana Roo, a tourist attraction, last week switched to medium risk yellow behind red. Essential businesses can operate at full capacity and most retail stores at 80%. The state has recorded just under 20,000 confirmed cases and 2,339 deaths.

A travel ban has existed since March between Mexico, the United States and Canada for non-essential movement. The current ban lasts through March 21.

Canada is 21st in the world with 21,994 deaths, including 34 Sunday, as well as 2,307 cases. Canada set a record for deaths, 257, on Dec. 29, and cases, 11,383, on Jan. 3.

The North American nation has a total of 866,503.

Canada has had a vaccination rate of 4.85% of its 37.9 million population, using the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

On Friday, Canada approved the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. About 20 million doses are expected starting in the spring.

"Vaccines will keep arriving faster and faster," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference. "We now have a third safe and effective vaccine."

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,088 deaths and 51,161 cases.

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New Zealand's deaths remain at 26 with the last one reported Feb. 16 and Australia's toll stands at 909 with the last two deaths occurring on Nov. 30 and Dec. 29.

New Zealand reported four cases Sunday, tallying 26 in one week, for a total of 2,376, and Australia was up five Sunday for 28,970, an increase of 44 in seven days.

In Sydney, the first 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in the nation on Sunday. Vaccinations begin March 8. Pfizer's first arrived earlier this month.

New South Wales, which includes Sydney has not had a case in 1.5 months.

In New Zealand, Auckland's two million residents went into seven-day lockdown Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin emerged. Two weeks go Auckland went into a three-day lockdown when a family of three were diagnosed with the British variant.

Africa has reported 103,868 fatalities and 3,924,598 infections.

Of those totals, South Africa has 49,993 deaths, including 52 Sunday, and 1,513,393 cases with a gain of 1,168. Cases reached a high of 21,980 on Jan. 8 and deaths at 839 on Jan. 19.

Far behind are Egypt with 10,688 deaths, including 49 Sunday, and Morocco with 8,623, including 8 new ones.

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A more contagious variant emerged in South Africa.

The goal is to vaccinate 35% of Africans, mainly city-dwellers, by the end of this year, and 60% by the end of 2022, said John Nkengasong, a Cameroonian virologist who directs the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Guardian.

"If anyone had told me one year ago that we would have 100,000 deaths from a new infection by now, I would not have believed them," Nkengasong said.

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