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COVID-19 eases in Asia, including India: weekly deaths dip 6%, cases 3%

By
Allen Cone
Volunteers carry a mannequin in a personal protective equipment suit on a cycle rickshaw on Friday in Chennai, India, during an awareness campaign against the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Idrees Mohammed/EPA-EFE
Volunteers carry a mannequin in a personal protective equipment suit on a cycle rickshaw on Friday in Chennai, India, during an awareness campaign against the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Idrees Mohammed/EPA-EFE

June 27 (UPI) -- Coronavirus deaths and cases are trending down in Asia, where the outbreak began 1 1/2 years ago in Mainland China and spiked most recently in India, as the global toll nears 4 million people.

In the past week, fatalities have dropped 6% and infections went down 3% in Asia despite spikes in Indonesia and Thailand, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. Worldwide, deaths were down 5% and cases went up 1%.

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On Sunday, deaths had reached 3,938,720 and cases were 181,851,932. On Saturday, deaths increased by 7,578 and cases by 370,996. The daily records are 903,354 infections in April and 17,504 fatalities in January.

In India, deaths are down 15% with 1,258 reported Sunday, down from a daily record of 4,529. And cases had dropped 21% with 50,040, compared with a record 414,2188. The more contagious Delta variant was first detected in India several months ago

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And unlike the past few weeks, India didn't record the most deaths and cases over seven days among nations. Brazil reported 11,951 deaths compared with India's 9,144 and the South American nation had 503,144 cases compared with India's 442,314.

The United States has the most deaths at 603,966, including 148 Saturday and cases at 33,624,871, including 7,303 most recently. India has the second-most cases at 30,233,183 with Brazil third at 18,420,598. Brazil is No. 2 for deaths at 513,474 and India No. 3 at 395,751.

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As coronavirus is diminishing in much of the world, it is surging in Russia, rising 33% in cases weekly, including a record 21,665 Saturday and up 25% in deaths, including 619 Saturday, just off the record 635.

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Russia is lagging behind other nations in vaccinating its residents though it has developed its own vaccine, Sputnik 5. The nation has vaccinated only 14.3% of its population with one dose and 10.2% are fully vaccinated, according to tracking by Bloomberg.

Worldwide, a total of 2.89 billion shots have been given in a population of 7.9 billion with a two-dose regimen required for most brands, according to tracking by Bloomberg.

The United States has administered at least one dose to 53.9% of its population with Brazil at 33.2%. Britain, which inoculated the first person in the world in December, is among the best in the world with 66%. India is a dominant manufacturer of vaccines worldwide, but the nation has inoculated only 19% of its population with at least one dose. China doesn't report dose percentages but has enough for 40.8% of the world-high 1.5 billion people.

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North America leads with 71 doses administered per 100 people, followed by Europe at 64, South America at 39, Asia at 38, Oceania at 20 and Africa at 3.6, according to tracking by The New York Times.

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Last Monday, India reported a single-day record of 8 million vaccinations administered on the day the nation made doses available for everyone last Monday. The nation has the second-largest population at 1.4 billion.

"Today's record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening," Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter. "The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight COVID-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine."

But experts are cautious of the increased doses.

"I don't think the recent spurt can be maintained, given what we know of the supply situation," Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, who also works on modeling outbreaks, told Bloomberg. "The single-day spike seems to have been the result of a concerted effort by some states, who may have stockpiled doses for this purpose. We would need to get to about 10 million doses per day to ensure that a future wave is less potent."

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 64th at 4,636 behind Afghanistan with 4,730. China added 14 cases Sunday and had administered 1.2 billion doses, the most in the world and dwarfing the United States and India each with around 321.7 million, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins.

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Iran has the second-most deaths in Asia in 13th worldwide at 83,845 with 134 reported Sunday.

Turkey dropped to sixth in the world for cases behind Russia last week at 5,409,027 with 4,883 Sunday and 19th in deaths at 49,576 including 52 most recently.

In the Far East, Indonesia has the most deaths, 57,138 in 17th place with 409 reported Sunday compared with the record 476 in late January. And cases numbered a record 21,342 Sunday. Vaccinations were 9.9% of the population with at least one dose.

And with testing low at experts warn the numbers are higher. Nearly 20 million tests have been reported at a rate of 70,700 per million, compared with the U.S. at 1.5 million, Brazil at 249,000 and India at 290,000.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed with people with positive tests being turned away and asked to self-isolate.

In the past week, Indonesia's deaths rose 39% and cases climbed 60%.

The outbreak also is surging in Thailand with a 57% increase in deaths including 42 Sunday for a total 1,912 and 18% in cases including 3,995 Sunday for a total of 244,447.

On Monday, Thailand will reimpose restrictions for one month, including at restaurants, construction sites and gatherings in the capital Bangkok region. And travelers must carry a "letter of intent" to leave or enter Thailand's southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla.

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Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has fully vaccinated 61.2% of its population, among the best in the world. Its death toll is 6,429, with one death reported in a week. Israel recorded 114 cases Saturday and another 65 Sunday.

With the Delta variant spreading in Israel, Chezy Levy, director general of the Health Ministry, announced his resignation Sunday.

In Japan, only 20.3% of the population has received at least one dose. The nation is 35th with 14,657 deaths, including 31 Sunday with a record 216 six weeks ago. Cases are 1,625 with a record of 7,882.

The Summer Olympics are scheduled to start in Japan on July 23. The Japanese government lifted its state of emergency everywhere Sunday except Okinawa Prefecture until July. 11. But there are restrictions, including Tokyo and Osaka, where restaurants and pubs which meet certain conditions will be allowed to serve alcohol until 7 p.m.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito is "extremely worried" that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could lead to a dangerous rise in coronavirus infections.

Foreign spectators are banned and attendance at venues will be limited.

South Korea has vaccinated 29.5% of its population. The nation has 2,013 deaths, including one more Sunday, and 155,071 cases, with a rise of 614 Sunday.

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Asia has 784,965 deaths, fourth in the world, but the 55,415,191 cases are the most of the continents.

On Thursday, South Korea will relax social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area.

In Europe, four nations are in the top 10 for most deaths, head by Russia in sixth with 133,282, Britain in seventh with 128,100, Italy eighth with 127,472 and France ninth with 110,968. Also, Germany is 12th with 91,313, Spain 14th with 80,779, Poland 15th with 74,979 and Ukraine 18th with 52,286.

On the continent, cases grew by 16% and deaths by 3%.

The spike has been heavily attributed to Russia with 599 deaths reported Sunday and 20,538 cases, about 1,000 shy of the record Saturday.

Besides the Sputnik V vaccine, there are two others made in Russia.

On Friday, Kremlin said in a statement that there were shortages in some areas. Also, residents are hesitant to take the doses and some believe they have antibodies.

"If I had a choice, I would rather take a non-Russian vaccine," Samyr Oynushev, a 29-year-old musician from Moscow, told NBC News. "I think that [low vaccination rates] are primarily the fault of the government, that people don't trust them so much."

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And epidemiologist Vasily Vlassov, a professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow who hasn't yet been vaccinated also told NBC: "Russians know German cars are better than Russia's cars and they have a problem believing that a Russian vaccine is better."

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that starting Monday all patrons at restaurants and bars will need to prove that they have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months, or have a negative test.

Russia resumed regular air travel to Turkey on Tuesday and on Monday with several other countries including United States, China, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Jordan and Ireland.

But some European nations have banned travel, including Germany and France most recently.

European nations are opening travel, including launching by July 1 a Digital Covid Certificate, which allows for free movement of travelers between its countries.

The 27-nation European Union has added the United States among countries for which travel restrictions should gradually be lifted. But it's up to each nation to decide on opening its borders.

The British government has placed most nations on a COVID-safe travel list.

Britain's COVID-19 numbers are down substantially from a record 2,396 deaths and 67,803 cases earlier this year.

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In the past week, however, cases rose 57% over the week prior with 102,957, including 14,876 on Sunday, a day after it posted 18,185, the highest in four months. Deaths were up 72% by with 11 Sunday.

On Saturday, British Health Minister Matt Hancock resigned after a video surfaced of him breaking social distancing protocols in May while the government was urging people to abide by them to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Britain still has restrictions on people to gather, socialize, eat and attend pubs indoors.

Britain leads European nations in vaccinated people with Italy 54.3%, Germany 53.4%, Spain 52.3%, France 51.4%, Poland 43.7% and Ukraine 5.8%.

On Sunday, Britain gained 11 deaths, Italy 14, France 17, Poland 5, Ukraine 17. Germany reported 10 and Spain doesn't release data on the weekend.

Europe has posted the most deaths of the continents with 1,099,420, and cases are second with 47,792,287.

On Monday, all of Italy will become a "white zone," which is the lowest-risk category.

In South America, deaths decreased 10% and cases dropped 3%.

South America has four nations in the top 20 for most deaths. Besides Brazil, Peru is fifth with 191,584, Colombia 10th with 104,678 and Argentina 11th with 92,568, jumping Germany in the past week.

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Overall, South America has 994,936 deaths and 32,587,376 cases.

Brazil's fatalities decreased 19%, including 725 Sunday after gaining 6% the previous week. Cases are down 4% though the nation set a record with 114,139 Wednesday, surpassing the mark of 97,586 in March. Infections rose by 33,704.

Chile has the highest vaccination rate on the continent at 64.4% and is 21st in deaths worldwide with 32,298, with Argentina 34.8%, Colombia at 21.4% and Peru 12.4%.

Chile's deaths sank 3% in the past week but added 135 Sunday after a 7% rise the previous week.

On Sunday, Colombia reported 664 deaths, the third most behind India and Brazil with 725.

The United States plans to send 3 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Brazil.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus himself one year ago, has downplayed the outbreak and been skeptical of the importance of vaccines.

"This has definitely been mismanaged," said Carla Domingues, an epidemiologist who ran Brazil's national immunization program from 2011 to 2019, told The New York Times. "We didn't believe in the need for vaccination, and we didn't even believe a second wave was coming."

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North America's totals are 916,591 deaths, up 8% for seven days, and 40,521,617 cases with virtually no change.

In one week, U.S. deaths dropped 5% to 2,044 and cases were down 5% to 81,129, according to Worldometers.info.

But Mexico's deaths are up 22%, with 175 Sunday and fourth in the world at 232,521. Deaths are way down in Mexico from a one-day record of 1,803. The nation's cases are up 16%, ranking 15th in cases at 2,503,408 with 5,051 most recently.

Canada's cases are down 35% in one week and deaths increased 4%. Ottawa has reported under triple digits for deaths since 142 on Feb. 3 and a record 257 on Dec. 29 for a total of 26,227 in 24th, including 13 Sunday. Cases reported were 435, down from the record of 11,383 on Jan. 3.

Cases are spiking in Mexico's Baja California Sur, which prompted reopening of two temporary hospital wards.

"Stay home," Los Cabos mayor-elect Óscar Leggs said to Mexico News Daily. "The beaches are open, so what! We are not going to contribute to the propagation of the virus and everyone else should do the same."

Mexico's vaccination rate is 23.1%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people. And Canada has risen to 66.7% and leading the United States by nearly 13% after lagging by several points for months.

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Canadians who have received both doses of the vaccine won't have to wear masks or physically distance when outside with small groups of people from multiple households, according to guidance issued Friday from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Canada, Mexico and the United States have mutual travel bans for non-essential travel through July 21. It began one year ago in March. Canada first extended the ban more than one week ago, and the United States extended it Monday.

Coronavirus remains minimal in Oceania, with only 42.3 million people. There are 1,274 deaths and 73,517 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 no cases Sunday, tallying 11 in one week, for a total of 2,729, and Australia was up 43, which is 168 in a week, for 30,499.

Australia has vaccinated 23.2% of its population. New Zealand has administered first doses to 13.0% of its population.

New South Wales, including Sydney, went into a two-week lockdown Saturday night amid a growing number of cases outside the areas already under stay-at-home orders except for shopping for essential goods, medical or compassion care, essential work and outdoor exercise in groups of 10 or fewer. Of the 29 locally cases reported Saturday, only 12 had been in isolation.

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Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that COVID positive cases can potentially pass the virus to others in their household.

"So one person takes it home and then previously one or two people in the household may have had it, now we're seeing everybody get it," she said. "This is different to what we've seen before."

In Sydney, residents previously were required to wear masks indoors in most portions of the city.

The outbreak also has been surging in Fiji with 15 deaths, compared with four since May 3 and four of those on Wednesday. Case have climbed from 121 on May 3 to 3,591, including 262 Sunday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country will provide more vaccines and other support. Fiji has vaccinated 28.2% of its 903,000 residents.

Africa's cases and deaths grew the most in the past week among the continents: 31% for infections for a cumulative 5,461,223 and fatalities at 28% for a total 141,519.

South Africa led the seven-day spike with 1,198 additional deaths at 28% and cases at 105,578, up 38%. A more contagious variant originated there.

South Africa is No. 1 on the continent with 59,900 deaths, including 122 Sunday and 15,036 cases with the record 21,862 in January. Egypt is second with 16,092 fatalities and Tunisia third with 14,654.

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South Africa has vaccinated 3.9% of its population with at least one shot.

"The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder. This is incredibly worrying. With rapidly rising case numbers and increasing reports of serious illness, the latest surge threatens to be Africa's worst yet," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said last week in a report by The Guardian.

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