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Brazil's record-setting COVID-19 deaths, cases lead world surge

By Allen Cone
Brazil's record-setting COVID-19 deaths, cases lead world surge
A woman demonstrates against the pandemic management by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, Brazil, on Friday. Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

March 28 (UPI) -- Brazil is leading another wave of coronavirus deaths and cases in the world despite restrictions and ramped-up vaccinations in many nations.

In the past week, fatalities through Saturday have risen by 66,694 compared with 62,022 the previous week, according to Worldometers.info tracking. The total toll stands at 2,795,878 deaths on Sunday. And infections have climbed 3,814,253 compared with 3,346,607. The total has reached 127,763,220.

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Although the United States for months has had the most deaths at 549,335 and cases at 30,262,036, according to Johns Hopkins tracking, Brazil has dominated the surge rising to 312,206 deaths and 12,534,688 cases, second in the world. Mexico is third in deaths with 201,623.

Although Brazil has less than 3% of the world's population at 213 million, the South American nation accounts for almost a third of the daily global deaths from the virus.

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Brazil not only set national records for single-day increases in deaths and cases last week, but often was the world daily leader in those categories, even more so than the United States.

In the past week, Brazil added 18,838 deaths, compared with 15,640 the week before, and 539,903 cases after 511,209.

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On Friday, Brazil set a single-day record of 3,600, surpassing the mark three days earlier of 3,158. On Thursday, the nation set the case record with 97,586, beating the mark of 90,830 on March 17 and 87,134 on Jan. 7.

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Saturday's increases were 3,368 deaths and 83,039 cases. Sunday's were 1,605 deaths and 44,326 cases.

The P.1 variant that originated in Brazil is responsible for a majority of the new infections, including more young and healthy people.

"We're in the trenches here, fighting a war," Andreia Cruz, a 42-year-old emergency-ward nurse in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, told The Wall Street Journal.

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Of Brazil's 26 states and federal districts, only a few hospitals have intensive care occupancy rates below 80%.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who had previously downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus despite contracting it himself, on Tuesday night during a brief address to the nation said 2021would be the "year of the vaccine." In December, he had previously dismissed the importance of vaccines and promoted conspiracy theories about negative side effects.

Brazil has only vaccinated 7% of the population with at least one dose, compared with Britain at 44.5% and the United States at 27.6%.

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In South America, four nations are in the top 15 for most deaths. Besides Brazil, Colombia is in 11th with 62,955, Argentina in 13th with 55,449 and Peru in 16th with 51,469. Chile is 24th with 22,754 deaths but its vaccination rate for the nation is 33.4% at least one dose, best in South America.

In all, the death toll is 540,865 and 20,825,881 cases on the continent.

In India, deaths and cases also are surging to the highest levels in several months.

On Sunday, India reported 312 deaths, the first time they topped 300 this year. The record is 1,283. And cases are at a 163-day high of 62,714 below a record mark of 97,859.

It has a total of 11,971,642 cases and 161,552 deaths.

India's western state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, the most populous urban area in India, imposed night curfews, starting Sunday and officials are bracing for lockdown-type restrictions.

Although several drugmakers manufacture vaccines in India, the nation only has vaccinated 3.7% of its 1.4 billion population with at least one dose.

The top vaccine makers are U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, both based in the United States, and AstraZeneca, which is developed with Oxford University, in Britain. China and Russia also have developed vaccines.

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India is the only Asian nation in the top 10 for most deaths, but the continent has recorded 424,218 deaths and is fourth, and 27,995,043 cases, which is third.

COVID-19 originated in Mainland China, but the nation has reported only a few deaths since April and stands in 55th at 4,636 behind Ireland with 4,653. China added 12 cases Sunday and has the world's largest population with 1.5 billion. So far, China has vaccine doses for 3.3% of the population and has developed its own vaccine.

In the Far East, Japan is 39th with 9,078 deaths, including 29 on Sunday with the record 120. Cases are 1,785 with the record 7,882.

The government is considering imposing pre-emergency restrictions after lifting its second COVID-19 emergency last Sunday.

"I'm feeling a great sense of crisis," health minister Norihisa Tamura told a news conference Friday.

Japan, which began vaccinating residents one month, has a rate of 0.6% for at least one dose.

The nation plans to issue digital health passports, like China, the European Union and other countries, Nikkei reported.

South Korea, which administered its first vaccines on Feb. 26, is at 1.5%.

South Korea's record is 40 deaths on Dec. 29 with one announced Sunday for a total of 1,722, as well as 482 cases, behind the mark of 1,241 on Dec. 25. On Saturday, it hit a 35-day high of 505.

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On Friday, South Korea announced it will extend its coronavirus distancing rules, which include an outside dining curfew, for two weeks.

Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has vaccinated 57.6% of its population, only behind Seychelles and Maldives. Its death toll is 6,185.

In Europe, coronavirus continues to surge.

Europe had the most cases among the continents with 39,0320,893 and deaths at 902,347.

Six European nations are in the top 10 for most deaths. Britain is fifth with 126,592, Italy is sixth with 107,933, Russia seventh with 97,740, France eighth with 94,596, Germany ninth with 76,468 and Spain 10th with 75,010. Also, Poland is 15th with 51,884.

The vaccination rates include 10.4% in Russia, 11.6% in France, 9.8% in Spain and 4.3% in Italy.

In Britain, cases and deaths have subsided though it is still contending with the B.1.1.7 variant that emerged within its borders.

Deaths reached a peak of 1,823 on Jan. 20 but dropped to 19 Sunday after 58 Saturday. Earlier this month, it went under triple digits for the first time since the middle of October.

Cases were 3,862 from a high of 68,053 on Jan. 8.

Britain is easing out of a lockdown. On Monday, outdoor gatherings are allowed. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said no data has dissuaded him "from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love."

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"In just a few days' time, I'm finally going to be able to go to the barbers," Johnson said. "But more important than that, I'm going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I'm going to drink a pint of beer in the pub."

Wales has become the first nation to suspend travel restrictions within its borders.

In Italy since Monday, everywhere is in the red or orange zones for restrictions. The entire country will be considered a red zone on Easter weekend from Saturday through next Monday.

Cases were above 20,000 for three days in a row but dropped to 19,611 Sunday. The record was 40,896 on Nov. 13.

Deaths reached a peak of 551 on Tuesday, the highest in more than two months. Sunday's increase was 297. The record was 993 on Dec. 3.

Russia's increased deaths and cases have been trending down. Sunday's rise was 336 deaths from a peak of 635 and cases are 9,088 from a record 29,935. Russia is inoculating residents with Sputnik V vaccines and selling it to other countries. In addition, the nation has developed two other vaccines: EpiVacCorona and CoviVak, which was unveiled last week.

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In France, cases surged to 45,641 Thursday, the most since a record 88,790 on Nov. 7. Sunday's increase was 37,014.

Deaths are down from a fall peak of 932 and a record 1,437 on April 15 to 131 Sunday.

Sixteen regions, including the greater Paris and Nice areas, are under restrictions, including outdoor gatherings of more than six people.

France's vaccinating numbers have been lagging under 10%.

"We weren't fast enough, strong enough on it," French President Emmanuel Macron told Greek television channel ERT Wednesday. "We didn't shoot for the stars as much as others. I think that should be a lesson for all of us. We were wrong to lack ambition, to lack the madness, to say, 'It's possible, let's do it.'"

"You can give that to the Americans, as early as the summer of 2020 they said: let's pull out all the stops and do it. They had more ambition than us. We didn't think [the production of a vaccine] would happen that quickly."

Germany and Spain will require people arriving by land from France to present a negative COVID-19 test, the Health Ministry said Saturday.

In Germany, deaths reached 290 Tuesday and were 64 Sunday after 101 Saturday and a record 1,244. Cases were 13,651 Sunday after 18,692 Saturday and a record of 31,553.

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Germany's lockdown was scheduled to end Sunday but it has been expended through April 18, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Tuesday. And there will be an even stricter lockdown from Thursday through next Monday over Easter.

"The idea of an Easter shutdown was made with the best intentions, because we must be able to slow and reverse the third wave of the pandemic," she said. "Nevertheless, the idea of the extended Easter break was a mistake, one with good reasons, but that was not possible to implement in such a short period of time.

Regions throughout Spain except in Madrid, Extremadura and the Balearic and Canary Islands have agreed to restrict travel over the Easter break in addition to a nighttime curfew.

Spain last reported data Friday: 590 deaths compared with a winter peak of 766 on Feb. 6 and a record 996 on April 2. The case increase was 7,586, behind the mark of 35,118 in January.

North America is second behind Europe for deaths the second-most deaths of the continents, 815,136 and cases with 35,634,340.

All but around 28,000 of the total deaths in North America are in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

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Mexico's official death toll is more than 200,000 but the federal government has reported excess deaths last year and the first six weeks this year have exceeded 417,000.

Many cases have been undiagnosed because of a low level of testing, which is 6 million for a population of 129.9 million.

On Sunday, Mexico reported 567 deaths, which is down from the record 1,803 on Jan. 21. Cases were 4,922 after the record 22,339 on Jan. 21.

Mexico was the first Latin American nation to begin administering vaccinations, but the rate is low at 4.5% for at least one dose.

The nonessential travel ban among Mexico, Canada and the United States has been extended to April 21. It began one year ago in March.

Canada's deaths have been under triple digits since 142 on Feb. 3, including 26 Saturday and 28 Sunday, for a total of 22,880. Cases were 4,321 Sunday after a record 11,383.

But the nation's top health official is warning about tough times.

"With increasing circulation of highly contagious variants, the threat of uncontrolled epidemic growth is significantly elevated," Dr. Theresa Tam said in a written statement Saturday.

Tam said public health orders nationwide need to be stronger, stricter and sustained.

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And Canada is lagging in vaccinations. The nation of 38 million has administered 4.9 million doses with 10.9% of its population getting at least one shot.

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,127 deaths and 56,119 cases.

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

New Zealand reported one case on Sunday, tallying 59 in one week, for a total of 2,482, and Australia was up six Sunday for 29,255, an increase of about 59 in seven days.

Australia began vaccinations on Feb. 21 and has reached 357,300, or 0.8% of the population getting at least one shot.

In Africa, 25 million vaccines through the Covax initiative have been delivered through March 15. But the World Health Organization says nearly 7 million have been administered.

South Africa, which is dealing with a variant that emerged within its borders, has vaccinated 0.4% of its population with its first dose, or 231,002, in a nation of 59.8 million.

The nation has a total of 52,663 deaths, including 15 Sunday, and a gain of 965 cases. Infections reached a high of 21,980 on Jan. 8 and deaths at 839 on Jan. 19.

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Africa has reported 112,170 deaths and 4,218,223 cases.

Far behind are Egypt with 11,882 deaths and Morocco with 8,798.

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