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COVID-19: Russia, Ukraine, Romania hit records in deaths, cases

By Allen Cone
COVID-19: Russia, Ukraine, Romania hit records in deaths, cases
Vaccines are given at a COVID-19 Marathon Vaccination For Life center organized at Children Palace venue in Bucharest, Romania on Friday. People could get vaccinated against the virus without an appointment. Starting on Friday six vaccination centers will be open non-stop during the weekend. Photo by Robert Ghement/EPA-EFE

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Three Eastern European nations -- Russia, Ukraine, Romania -- have broken national COVID-19 daily death and case records as the continent was the only one to report a weekly increase in both categories. World fatalities rose 0.5% and cases were up 2%.

On Sunday, Russia reported a record 1,072 fatalities for a total of 230,600 at fifth place. Ukraine added 386 deaths, two days after a record 622, and in 19th at 63,872. Romania gained 381 five days after a record 561 for 20th at 44,679.

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The three nations, that at one time were part of the Soviet bloc, reported the three most deaths in the past week in Europe, according to tracking by Worldometers.info: Russia with 7,288, Ukraine with 3,239 and Romania with 2,858. In all Europe added 19,025 fatalities and leads the world overall with 1,280,439 deaths. Its 62,951,974 cases are second behind Asia.

On Sunday, the world death toll reached 4,963,232 and cases are 244,411,625. The United States leads in both categories with 756,362 deaths and 46,312,782 cases.

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The three Eastern European nations also had record daily cases in the past week. Russia gained 211,666 in the past week with 35,660 Sunday, one day after a record 37,678, for a total of 8,241,643 in fifth place in the world. Romania added 99,474 weekly with most recent 11,725 five days after a record 17,158 and has 1,561,928 in 30th place. And Ukraine reported 93,969 with 20,791 Sunday, two days after a record 23,785, for 2,769,405 in 18th place.

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Russia has recorded at least 900 deaths for 19 days in a row and hasn't been below 700 since July. Last year, cases reached 29,935 and deaths were 635, both on Dec. 24.

All three of these Eastern European nations are lagging in vaccine administration with only about a third of the residents getting at least one dose.

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Russia has vaccinated 35.7% of its population with at least one dose of a domestic-produced vaccine, Sputnik 5. Ukraine is at 30.2% and Romania at 35%.

Neither Ukraine nor Romania has approved the use of Sputnik 5, which also is awaiting World Health Association approval.

Worldwide, vaccination doses grew by 240 million in one week to 6.84 billion with the world's population of 7.9 billion, according to tracking by Bloomberg. Elsewhere in the world, the United States is at 66.8% with Mainland China at 82.5%.

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Amid concerns about waning immunity among those who are fully vaccinated, President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday once again implored Russian citizens to get a shot.

"We are seeing the dangerous consequences of the low vaccination levels in our country," Putin said. "I repeat once again: vaccination really reduces the risks of severe illness or serious complications after, and the threat of death ... I also once again urge all citizens to get vaccinated. This is about protecting yourself, about your safety, even your life, your relatives' health."

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Putin also announced paid non-working days from last Saturday to Nov. 7. Though a nationwide lockdown is not in effect, the Kremlin recommended the country's separate regions to enact restrictions.

Hospital beds are in short supply with 86.6% occupied, 276,500, with 66.1% equipped with oxygen.

In Ukraine, the nation is divided into colored zones. The city of Kyiv is in the orange zone, requiring all establishments to operate with lower capacity. In Rivne and Mykolaiv, both red zones, nonessential businesses are closed and public gatherings banned.

In Romania, school holidays begin Monday initially for two weeks.

The nation's 2,000 intensive care beds are all full, with 50 critically ill patients transferred to hospitals in Hungary and Poland.

"Sometimes I feel like the whole country has become a resuscitation department," Dorel Sandesc, head of intensive care at Timisoara hospital in western Romania, told the BBC.

Coronavirus is not just spiking in Eastern Europe.

Britain reported the most cases on the continent in the past week, 325,436, which represents a 22% increase, for a total of 8,773,674 in fourth place. On Sunday, 39,962 were reported with 51,819 Thursday, behind the record 67,775 in January when the Delta variant was peaking there.

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Britain's weekly deaths also increased 14% at 949 with 72 reported Sunday and in eighth globally with 139,533. On Tuesday 223 fatalities were reported, the most since March. The record was 1,824 in January.

The spike is considered Britain's fourth wave of coronavirus.

On July 19's "freedom day," virtually all of England's restrictions were lifted, including required mask-wearing. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to "begin to learn to live with this virus."

Other European nations have instituted passes that require proof of vaccination or a negative test to visit bars and restaurants or work in several fields, including healthcare.

"Exceptional policies lead to exceptional outcomes," Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist at Queen Mary University in London, told CNN. "It's very predictable. This is a consequence of opening everything up.

"We're approaching winter, and things are only going to get worse," she added.

Britain, which was the first nation in the world to begin vaccinations last December, is at 74.3% with at least one shot among its population.

"England's booster rollout is failing to keep pace with the rollout of first and second vaccine doses," John Roberts, a consultant at the COVID-19 Actuaries Response group which tracks vaccination figures, warned in a statement Monday.

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In the European Union, the one-shot vaccination rate is 69.1%, including 81.6% in Spain, 78.7% in France, 76.9% in Italy, 69.1% in Germany. Also in Europe, it's 53.9% in Poland.

In deaths, Italy is ninth with 131,826, including 24 Sunday. In the top 20: France is 12th with 117,467, an increase of 4 Sunday; Germany 14th with 95,794 and none Sunday; Spain 16th with 87,132 and no data on weekends; Poland 17th with 76,447, a rise of 13 Sunday.

On Friday, Britain's 48,991 cases are more than twice as much as France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined.

The 27-nation European Union and 16 other nations have a vaccine certificate program, meaning people who have been fully vaccinated can visit other member countries, including England, without needing to quarantine. Each nation can implement restrictions.

Israel and Turkey are the two Asian nations that participate in the program.

Asia's 78,678,076 cases ranked first among the continents but they decreased 7% in the past week. And deaths are third at 1,159,550, increasing 1%.

India has the second-most cases in the world at 34,175,468, but only 15,906 Sunday, the 30th day in a row under 30,000. Deaths rose by 561, the most since late August, at 454,269.

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India has the world records: 6,148 deaths in June and 414,188 cases in May.

"It's difficult to predict because the global experience shows that things could turn sour at any point of time," Dr. Anant Bhan, a global health and policy expert from the central Indian city of Bhopal, told CNN. "But the trend in India right now is very encouraging. The number of vaccines administered is high and there is no upswing in cases."

India, which is the prime manufacturer of vaccines, has inoculated 52.1% of its population with at least one dose.

Last week, India hit 1 billion doses. China is No. 1 with 2.2 billion and the United States third at 412.9 million.

Indonesia's daily deaths and cases are also a fraction from a few months ago.

Indonesia ranks seventh in the world at 143,205 with an increase of 29, way down from a record 2,069 on July 27. The Asian nation's cases are 14th at 4,240,019 including 623 Sunday, also way below the record 54,000 in July. Indonesia has vaccinated 41.8% of its population with at least one dose.

Iran is 11th at 125,223, including 171 Sunday. Iran's one-shot vaccination rate is 60.1%, up significantly from 54.1% one week ago and two weeks ago 43.6%.

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Turkey is sixth in the world for cases at 7,851, 805 including 24,792 reported Sunday and 18th in deaths at 69,112, including 195 most recently. Turkey has a 66.3% vaccination rate.

Japan reported 236 cases, less than 1% of the record of 25,492 on Aug. 21 after the Summer Olympics ended on Aug. 8. And deaths were up eight for a total of 18,212.

Japan, which ended its state of emergency on Oct. 1, has a relatively low 13,626 infections per million and 144 deaths per million. Worldwide, it's 31,314 cases per million and 636.2 per million deaths. The United States' figures are 2,267 fatalities per million and 138,795 infections per million.

During the peak, hospitals were filled.

"Once they saw the news about the situation in hospitals and deaths at home, this information had an impact in terms of behavior change," Dr. Hitoshi Oshitani, the architect of Japan's early response to COVID-19, told The Sydney Morning Herald. "The effect of this information is quite significant in Japanese society. It creates a strong sense of peer pressure."

Japan, which didn't administer its first vaccine doses until February, has vaccinated 76.4% of the population.

The pandemic began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation's death toll has stood at 4,636 for several months and 80th behind Zimbabwe at 4,663. China added 50 cases Sunday.

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On Friday, China reported 38 domestically transmitted cases, the highest number in a month. The infections are centered in north and northwest China.

South Korea's cases rose 1,423 Sunday after a record 3,273 on Sept. 25. The nation has 2,766 deaths, including 21 more Sunday.

South Korea's vaccination rate is 78.7%, after getting off to a late start like Japan.

Israel has a death toll of 8,049 with 3 reported Sunday, and 543 cases most recently with the record 20,523 Sept. 1. Israel has among the world's worst infection rates: 141,824 per million.

The nation's one-shot vaccination rate is 68.7%. And booster shots are required for travelers and entry to public spaces for those 12 and older.

Next month, fully vaccinated tourists will be able to visit Israel, according to a plan by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Health and Tourism ministries announced Thursday. The parliament still needs to approve the proposal.

Also, all travelers will be required to take a test within 72 hours of boarding the plane and upon arrival. They will also be required to stay in isolation until the results of the test come back negative or 24 hours have passed.

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On Nov. 8, the United States will allow entry to fully vaccinated foreign travelers from 33 nations, including by air and land, if they'd spent any of the previous 14 days in several countries. They also must have a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days prior to departure.

Last week, Canada ended its advisory against non-essential travel for vaccinated citizens. Canada reopened its border to vaccinated Americans in August.

The United States' deaths dropped 15% and cases 24%. On Sunday, the United States reported 157 deaths and 17,580 cases though most states don't report data on weekends.

Mexico is fourth in the world in deaths at 286,259 with a 18% weekly decrease and 284 recorded Saturday and 306 on Sunday. The nation's cases dropped 23% with 4,452 most recently for 15th at 3,781,661.

Canada ranks 26th worldwide in deaths with 28,749, including 4 on Sunday, and 27th in cases with 1,698,123, including 1,087 most recently. Canada's deaths record is 257 on Dec. 29 and the cases mark is 11,383 on Jan. 3.

Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 765 and cases 44,454.

In North America, the deaths are 1,135,00 with a 16% weekly drop, and cases are 55,660,529, decreasing 24%.

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Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 78.5%. The United States is at 66.3% for one shot. Mexico's percentage is 54.7%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.

In Mexico, Baja California is the only state with a high-risk level, orange on the stoplight risk system that is released every other week. Low-risk green states have risen 20, including Mexico City and Mexico state, with only 11 yellow. Prime tourist destination Yucatan remains yellow.

In South America, cases rose 16% with a total of 38,284,868 but deaths were down 2% to 1,167,510.

Brazil's deaths increased 4% to 605,682, which is second in the world, and 24% in cases to 21,729,763, which ranks third. Brazil reported 358 deaths and11,716 cases Saturday and 113 and 6,204 on Sunday.

Last week, Brazil's Senate recommended charges against humanity for "obvious disregard" for people's lives and other charges for President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the pandemic.

Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus and has refused to be vaccinated, has dismissed the virus as like the flu.

Also in the top 10 for deaths: Peru is sixth at 200,052 and Colombia 10th at 127,067. Argentina is 13th with 115,826 deaths and Chile 22nd with 37,669.

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On Sunday, Chile reported seven more deaths, Peru 33, Colombia 35 and Argentina three. These numbers are way down from records: Peru with 1,154, Colombia with 754, Argentina with 791, Chile with 316.

Chile has the highest vaccination rate on the continent at 85.1% with Brazil at 75.0%, Argentina 71.9%, Colombia at 57.0% and Peru 54.8%.

Latin America is at 61% with at least one shot, according to New York Times tracking. The United States and Canada are at 68% with Europe at 59%, Asia-Pacific 57%, Middle East 42% and Africa 7.5%.

Africa has 16.72% of the world's population but its share of vaccinations is 2.5% at 172 million doses.

Specifically, South Africa has vaccinated just 24% of its population with at least one shot.

In the continent, deaths dropped 9% for the week with a total of 217,484 and cases also were down 16% at 8,540,523.

South Africa is 15th in the world with 88,925 deaths, including 11 Sunday. And cases rose 300 most recently.

Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 25,149 ahead of Egypt with 18,285.

The World Health Organization has hired a company in South Africa, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, to figure out how to make an mRNA vaccine against COVID that is as close as possible to the version produced by Moderna.

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Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 3,573 deaths with a decrease of 28% in seven days, or 159, and cases are 294,934, up more than 19,400 with a drop of 2%.

New Zealand's deaths remained 28 after rising by one from two weeks ago. Australia's toll increased to 1,637, with 15 reported Sunday and 106 in a week.

New Zealand added 84 cases Sunday and Australia was up 2,175 with a record 2,688 reached 10 days ago.

Australia has a vaccination rate of 73.1% with New Zealand at 73.6% among the entire population.

On Oct. 11, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, was no longer declared a hotspot after confirmation of the state's 80% double vaccination dose. It had that designation on Aug. 14.

Victoria, which includes Melbourne, will end its lockdown Friday with 80% full vaccination reached among those 18 and older. Melbourne has been in lockdown since July. Masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor settings where social distancing is possible. Also, entertainment and retail venues can re-open.

When 90% full vaccination is surpassed among those 12 and older, which is expected on Nov. 24, masks will only be mandated in the most high-risk settings and density caps at venues will be scrapped for those fully vaccinated.

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Fiji, with a 69.2% vaccinated rate, has 663 deaths. On May 3, there were four fatalities. Cases have climbed from 121 on May 3 to 51,977, including 16 most recently. Fiji has 903,457 residents.

Guam, a territory of the United States with fewer than 200,000 residents, has 227 deaths with one posted Saturday and five in a week, and 17,508 cases, including 36 most recently. Its vaccination rate is 79.5% for the entire population, including 93.0% of those eligible, which is 12 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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