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Deaths surging in South America as global toll down 3% in week

By Allen Cone
Deaths surging in South America as global toll down 3% in week
Two people juggle on an empty street during the first day of strict confinement in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday. Photo by Juan Ignacio/EPA-EFE

May 23 (UPI) -- With coronavirus deaths and cases subsiding worldwide, the pandemic continues to surge in two hotspots: South America, including specifically Argentina and Colombia, as well as India.

For Sunday, the death toll reached 3,478,219 and cases were 167,516,375 but in the past week fatalities had declined 13% and infections were down 3%.

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South American's deaths have risen 2%, including 7% in Argentina, 16% in Uruguay and 51% in Bolivia, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. Brazil, which has the second-most deaths in the world at 449,185 behind the United States with 589,891, grew 4%. And Colombia, which is in 10th place with 84,228 fatalities, rose by 1%.

The continent's deaths rose by 25,016, which is 29.5% of the world total though the population is only 5.5%. Cases dropped 3%. So far Sunday, the continent's deaths are 751,892 and cases are 27,657,019.

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Cases grew 10% in South America, including 45% in Argentina, 24% in Uruguay, 21% in Paraguay, 20% in Bolivia. Colombia decreased 9%. Overall, the continent has 751,694 deaths and 27,647,386 cases.

Another world hotspot continues to be India with a 2% weekly increase in deaths. The Asian nation added 27,921 deaths in the past week. India set a world record with 4,529 Wednesday, and added 3,741 Sunday for a total of 299,266 in third place.

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Cases declined 19% from a week ago and a world record 414,188 on May 7. On Sunday, cases increased by 240,842 for a total of 26,530,132, behind No. 1 United States with 33,110,372.

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The United States' cases declined 7% and deaths dropped 22%.

Nations have been successful in curbing the pandemic with restrictions, including lockdowns, and vaccinations.

A total of 1.63 billion shots have been given in a population of 7.9 billion with a two-dose regimen required for most brands.

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North America leads with 57%, followed by Europe at 42%, South America at 24%, Asia at 18% Oceania at 9.9% and Africa at 2%, according to tracking by The New York Times.

The United States has administered at least one dose to 48.9% of its population with Brazil at 19.7%, according to tracking by Bloomberg. Britain, which inoculated the first person in the world in December, is among the best in the world with 56.5%. India sits at just 11% although it is a dominant manufacturer of vaccines worldwide.

The top vaccine makers are U.S.-based Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Among other nations in South America, Chile leads with 50.1% with Argentina at 19.2%, Colombia at 10.2%, Peru at 6.4%, Paraguay at 2.9% and Bolivia at 6.9%.

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With four nations in the top 20 worldwide for most deaths, Argentina moved up to 13th from 14th last week with 74,064 deaths, including 297 Saturday and 375 Sunday with a record 692 Friday. Peru is in 15th with 68,053, including 238 Saturday and 246 Sunday.

Also in South America, Chile 23rd with 28,518, including 96 Saturday and 132 Sunday; Bolivia 35th with 13,910, including 77 Saturday and 53 Sunday; and Paraguay 46th at 8,360, adding 120 Saturday and 125 Sunday.

In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez ordered a new nine-day lockdown. Supermarkets and essential businesses are allowed to remain open, but in-person school lessons will be suspended. Restaurants can only have home delivery and pick-up services with a 6 p.m. curfew.

"I am aware that these restrictions create difficulties," President Fernández said. "Faced with this reality, there is no choice but to choose the preservation of life."

From March to July last year the lockdown was more strict, with even dog walking not allowed.

Coronavirus is high in Brazil though deaths and cases are trending down. Brazil posted a record 4,211 deaths on April 6 with Saturday's increase of 1,764 and Sunday's 894. Cases were 71,283 Saturday and 36,134 Sunday compared with a record 97,586 in March.

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Asia has the most cases in the world with 49,214,707 but third-most deaths with 648,087.

India accounted for 47.7% of the 634,077 cases Saturday, which were 323,993. The 5,168 deaths also were 47.7% of the fatalities.

Despite high daily data, India's per capita figures are lower than the world -- 215 deaths per million and 19,057 cases. The world average is 445 deaths and 21,429 cases with the United States at 1,815 fatalities and 101,832 infections. Brazil has 2,096 deaths per million and 75,022 cases per million.

In Delhi, the capital territory with a population of 18.98 million, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced the lockdown has been extended to May 31 as the city recorded 1,600 cases Saturday.

If the COVID-19 cases continue to drop, "the process to unlock the city in a phased manner may start" but Kejriwal noted a shortage of vaccines.

"There is a possibility that the third wave won't hit if everyone is vaccinated," he said. "We are planning to vaccinate everyone as soon as possible. I'm in talks with domestic and foreign companies regarding vaccines. We're ready to spend from our budget."

The pandemic outbreak began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation with the world's largest population of 1.5 billion has reported only a few deaths in the past 12 months and stands in 60th at 4,636 behind Azerbaijan with 4,860. China added 19 cases Sunday.

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In Taiwan, the island of 23 million people reported more than 1,000 new cases in the past week with only 1% vaccinated.

"Taiwan access to vaccines continues to be slowed down by Chinese interference, while they insist we buy Chinese made ones," Presidential Office spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said on Twitter last week. "If you really want to help please don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall."

Iran has the second-most deaths in Asia and 12th worldwide at 78,597 with 216 reported Sunday.

Turkey ranks fifth in the world for cases at 5,186,487 with 7,839 Sunday and 19th in deaths at 46,268, including 197 most recently

In the Far East, Indonesia has the most deaths, 49,328 in 18th place with 123 reported Sunday.

Japan is 38th with 11,537 deaths, including 62 on Sunday but a record 216 Tuesday, shattering the mark of 148 several months ago. Cases are 4,048 with the record 7,882.

Only 4.4% of the population has received at least one dose.

Calls are mounting in the nation to cancel the Summer Olympics, scheduled to start July 23 in Tokyo, which is under lockdown along with other areas in the region.

The state of emergency in Tokyo is set to expire on May 31, but the government "will discuss whether to scale down to quasi-emergency measures, or whether to continue the declaration for a while, then bring (the nine prefectures) back to a normal state if the situation significantly improves," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Sunday on an NHK program.

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A contract between the International Olympic Committee and the host city only allows the IOC to cancel the games. The Olympics already were postponed from 2020.

Shigeru Omi, an infectious disease expert who heads a government subcommittee on the coronavirus, told an opposition lawmaker in a parliament committee it is the "responsibility" of the organizers to determine if Japan can host the Olympics and Paralympics.

"The decision cannot be made at the last minute," he said.

The government said that 59 municipalities don't plan to host athletes for pre-Olympic training camps and cultural exchanges. In all, 15,000 athletes are expected for the Olympics.

South Korea has vaccinated 7.3% of its population. The nation has 1,931 deaths, including five more Sunday, and 135,929 cases, with a rise of 585 on Sunday. The record is 40 deaths and 1,241 cases.

South Korea's restrictions were extended three weeks to June 13. The greater Seoul area, which has more than half of the country's 52 million people, is under Level 2 social distancing, the third-highest in the five-tier system. The rest of the country is mostly subject to Level 1.5 distancing.

Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has fully vaccinated 60.1% of its population, among the best in the world. Its death toll is 6,404, rising by 22 in one week, including one Sunday.

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Unlike Asia and South America, the pandemic is subsiding in Europe with deaths down 20% and cases 17% in one week. The totals are 1,061,028 fatalities and 46,199,132 infections.

Five European nations are in the top 10 for most deaths: Britain fifth with 127,721 Italy sixth with 125,225, Russia seventh with 118,482, France eighth with 108,596 and Germany ninth with 87,973. Spain is 11th with 79,620, Poland 14th at 72,928 and Ukraine 17th at 49,368.

Britain added only 41 deaths in the past week. A more contagious strain was first found there and it hit 1,823 fatalities in one day in January. The biggest death gainer in Europe is Russia with 2,645. France was at 1,393 in the past week, Ukraine at 1,337, Poland at 1,273 Italy at 1,005, Germany at 1,291 and Spain at 250.

Behind Britain in vaccinations are 39.9% in Germany, 35.3% in France, 35.2% in Spain, 34.4% in Italy, 33.1% in Poland, 9.5% in Russia and 2.5% in Ukraine.

On Sunday, Britain reported five deaths and 2,235. Italy gained 72 deaths and 3,995 cases, Russia 357 deaths and 8,951 cases, France 70 deaths and 9,704 and Germany 13 deaths and 1,182 case,

Last Monday, restrictions were lifted in England, including allowing indoor dining and drinking with indoor entertainment, including concert halls and theater.

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Germany, France and Italy are emerging from a lockdown. Spain's six-month lockdown ended May 9.

On Wednesday in France, people were allowed to go to cafes, cinemas, museums and non-essential shops with the curfew extended two hours to 10 p.m.

Britain has a travel ban to many nations though it has enacted its first "green list," allowing people to travel to other countries, including Israel and Portugal, and return home without the need to quarantine.

Last Wednesday, the European Union agreed to reopen its borders possibly by this week to fully vaccinated travelers, including those from the United States. Visitors who have received EU-approved vaccines will be allowed to enter European Union countries without a test or quarantine upon arrival.

Member states will be allowed to set their own requirements.

Starting Sunday, Germany banned most travel from Britain amid concerns of a more contagious variant that originated in India and has spread to the kingdom.

The ban doesn't apply to German citizens or "persons with a domicile and right of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany and their spouses or registered civil partners from the same household, and minor children." Also allowed are those who remain in the airport as they transfer from one flight to another.

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In North America, the nonessential travel ban among Mexico, Canada and the United States has been extended through June 21. It began one year ago in March.

"We're working closely with Canada & Mexico to safely ease restrictions as conditions improve," the U.S. Homeland Security posted on Twitter.

North America is second behind Europe for deaths with 884,995, and third cases with 39,483,292. In one week, fatalities are down 13% and cases 20%.

Vaccination rates are much different in the two U.S. neighbors: Mexico at 13.6%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people, and Canada at 45.7%, which has been closing the gap with the United States and is now 2.2 percentage points less.

Deaths have been easing in Mexico with 341 on Sunday, down from a single-day record 1,803 with a total of 2221,597 in fourth place globally. Cases were 2,586 for a total of 2,395,330, which ranks 15th.

Canada, which has 29% of Mexico's population, has reported under triple digits for deaths since 142 on Feb. 3 and a record 257 on Dec. 29, including 41 Saturday and 28 Sunday for a total of 25,586. Cases were 2,586 Sunday behind the record 11,383.

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In Ontario, authorities have eased some restrictions, including allowing golf courses and other outdoor recreational facilities to reopen. Ontario, with a population of 14.6 million, reported 1,794 cases.

Manitoba, which has a 1.4 million population, reported 476 cases. People are prohibited from gathering outdoors with people from outside their household.

In Mexico, Quintana Roo, which includes the Caribbean coast states of Cancun and Cozumel, is the only high-risk orange state in the country.

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,243 deaths and 67,265 cases.

New Zealand's deaths remain at 26 with the last one reported on Feb. 16 and Australia's toll stayed at 910 with one reported April 13.

New Zealand reported six cases Sunday, tallying 22 in one week, for a total of 2,668, and Australia was up seven, which is 36 in a week, for 30,011 total.

Australia has vaccines available for 7% of the population with dosage administration not available. New Zealand has administered first doses to 6.5% of its population.

Africa has reported 128,741 deaths and 4,800,002 cases. In one week, it's a 13% increase of deaths and 23% cases.

The pandemic has been subsiding in South Africa with 55,802 deaths, including 30 Sunday, and 2,894 cases despite a more contagious strain originating there. Egypt is second with 14,721 after 51 on Sunday and Tunisia third with 12,236 with 54 newly reported deaths.

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South Africa, which is dealing with a variant, has vaccinated 1.1% of its population with its first dose.

The nation is planning to accept a "travel pass" developed by the International Air Transport Association. Twenty airline carriers have tested the app.

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