A girl receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Museum of Tomorrow, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Mpnday. Vaccination for children between the ages of 5 and 11 started on Monday in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other large cities of the country amid a surge in infections. Photo by Andre Coelho/EPA-EFE
Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Two months after the COVID-19 Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa, cases have subsided to an 8% weekly rise, including decreases in some world hotspots, but spikes have been reported in India, Brazil and Japan. Deaths, which lag weeks after infections, climbed 7% in the past week.
In one week, infections rose 33,353,257 for a total of 351,977,884 so far Sunday, according to tracking by Worldometers.info with an increase of 14% a week earlier. On Thursday, cases hit a daily record of 3,757,305, and it dropped Saturday to 2,835,559 as the strain has become the dominant strain globally. On Dec. 13, it was down to 480,954. During the height of the Delta variant spike, cases reached 904,084 on April 29.
Deaths went up 7% or 53,827 for a toll of 5,613,594. The previous seven days the rise was 9%.
Infections are surging in some places that originally weren't affected by Omicron.
India's cases rose 33%, climbing 333,533 Sunday, the most since mid-May for a total of 39,237,264, second in the world behind the United States' 71,925,931, which dropped 19%. The United States, with a population of 334 million, also has the most deaths at 889,197, decreasing 2% in a week.
One week ago India's infections went up 110%.
India's daily cases increase was below the record 401,078, which was the highest in the world until the omicron spike with the U.S. holding the mark with 897,925 on Jan. 7.
India, which has the second-largest population in the world at 1.4 billion, reported 7,081 cases 28 days ago, 27,553 21 days ago and 159,632 14 days ago.
India reported 525 deaths Sunday for a total of 489,409, third behind the United States and Brazil. On Friday, India added 703 deaths, the most since early October.
Brazil has also been experiencing a surge as cases grew 107% in a week to 984,484 for a total of 24,044,437, including 84,230 Sunday, two days after a record 205,310, surpassing the mark of 115,041 in late June before the Omicron surge. The weekly cases rise was 109% the previous week.
Two weeks ago, Brazil's daily increase was 24,382, after 1,721 three weeks ago and 4,810 four weeks ago. Brazil has 214.9 million people.
Deaths rose 92% with 118 Saturday and the record 4,211 in early April. Brazil's total is 623,097.
Japan, with a population of 125.9 million, on Sunday reported a record 50,030 cases for a total of 2,180,975. Until the surge, the record was 25,492 on Aug. 21 after the Summer Olympics ended on Aug. 8. Two Sundays ago, the rise was 8,249 with 554 three weeks ago. On Nov. 22 there were only 50 cases.
Japan reported 14 deaths Sunday with the record 227 in mid-May, while Russia's infections went up 94%.
Several big nations reported weekly declines: South Africa 35, Australia 33%, Canada 33%, Britain 22%, Greece 19%, Spain 18%, Italy 3%.
Besides the United States and Brazil, nations with recent daily cases records include France at 464,769 (population 65.5 million), Britain at 218,724 (population 68.4 million), Italy at 228,1279 (60.3 million), Spain at 161,688 (46.8 million), Australia at 153,968 (58.8 million), Germany 138,634 (84.2 million), Argentina at 134,439 (45.8 million), Russia 63,205 (146.0 million), Mexico 60,552 (131.0 million), Canada at 55,350 (38.2 million), Turkey at 77,722 (85.7 million), Israel 71,844 (9.3 million), Greece 50,126 (10.3 million).
Nations with weekly surges in deaths include Peru 114%, Argentina 113%, Mexico 60%, Australia 49%, Canada 44%, Italy 24%.
Scientists say the outbreak might be as deadly but Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president of the World Health Organization, said last week: "Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths, and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities."
Though vaccinated people are becoming breakthrough cases, their situation are overwhelmingly minor.
In one study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 259 hospitals and 383 emergency departments from late August through early January, a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine reduced the odds of a hospital or emergency room visit by 82% once omicron started spreading.
"Protection against infection and hospitalization with the Omicron variant is highest for those who are up to date with their vaccination, meaning those who are boosted when they are eligible," said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House COVID Task Force briefing Friday. "There are still millions of people who are eligible for booster dose and have not yet received one."
In all, more than 9.91 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, an increase of 220 million in one week with the world's population of 7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg tracking.
Broken down by world regions, the United States and Canada have administered at least one dose to 76% of the population, followed by Latin America at 72%, Asia-Pacific 73%, Europe at 67%, Middle East 52% and Africa at 14%, according to The New York Times tracking.
China, which has the world's largest population at 1.5 billion, had administered 3 billion doses, or 89.5% of the population for one shot, and ahead of India at 1.7 billion with 67.1% rate. The United States is third at 533.9 million and 74.7%.
Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated. In the European Union, 74.8%, including 92.1% in Denmark, 86.5% in Spain, 82.3% in France, 83.3% in Italy, 76.7% in Netherlands, 75.5% in Austria, 75.4% in Germany. Britain, which has left the EU, has a 77.8% rate.
Russia is lagging the world in vaccination with 55.1% of its population with at least one dose of a domestic-produced vaccine, including Sputnik 5.
Two other Eastern European nations have low vaccination rates: Ukraine at 36.5% and Romania at 41.5%. Poland's rate is 58.4% and Czech Republic's is 64.6%.
In Europe, cases rose 15% over seven days, one week after 2%, two weeks after 33%, with a world-high 7,994,005 for 113,856,582 in first place among continents. Deaths decreased 4%, after a 4% rise and a 10% drop to a total of 1,593,098, also in first place.
France reported the second-most in the world in the past week, 2,496,563, behind the United States with 4,561,222. France's 16,692,432 cases are fourth, moving past Britain with 15,859,288, in the past week.
Britain, which reported 74,799 cases Sunday, first surpassed 100,000 31 days ago with 119,557. Until the recent surge, the record was 67,794 in early January last year.
France has the worst infection rate among large nations: 250,247 per million with the world at 44,939. Britain is at 230,628 and United States at 214,740. Israel's rate is 237,250.
France surpassed 400,000 daily cases for the first time last week, including the record 464,769 Tuesday, with the highest until the spike 83,324 in early November 2020. Sunday's increase was 301,614.
France is 12th in deaths at 128,629, including 115 Sunday.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday most of the restrictions will end next month, including allowing full capacity at large events. Working from home requirements will end and masks won't be required outdoors.
Also, vaccination will be necessary to events or travel on trains, as negative tests will no longer be accepted.
Last week, the British government announced that Plan B restrictions reimposed in England last month would be lifted. That includes working from home if possible, no mandatory masks in public or a vaccine pass to enter venues.
"We must learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu," Health Minister Sajid said last week.
Britain's deaths are 153,862 in seventh, including 75 Sunday. The kingdom added 438 deaths Tuesday, the most since late February with the record 1,824 in January one year ago.
Before the onset of Omicron, COVID-19 had already been at high levels in Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Poland.
On Sunday, Russia reported 679 deaths, with the record 1,254 on Nov. 19, for a total of 326,112 in fourth place. And the nation added a record 63,205 cases for 11,108,191, in sixth place. Russia's deaths are down by 8%.
Russia last week went below 700 daily deaths for the first time since July.
Germany's cases continue to surge, rising 56% in one week.
The nation surpassed 100,000 last week. Until Nov. 4, the record was 32,546 on April 14. On Sunday, Germany reported 75,280 for a total of 8,717,145, which is 10th in the world.
Deaths dropped 32% in Germany.
On Dec. 24, Germany reported 575 deaths, the most since 589 on Feb. 16. Sunday's gain was 31 for 117,354 in 14th. Deaths are nowhere near the record of 1,249 on Dec. 29.
Germany remains under a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, including nonessential services.
In deaths elsewhere, Italy is ninth with 143,523, including 227 Sunday. In the top 20: Poland 15th with 103,844, rising by 25; Ukraine 16th with 99,215, including 86 more; and Spain 18th with 91,741 and no data on weekends.
Italy reported 138,860 infections Sunday. Until the spike, the record was 41,198 in November 2020.
Italy has a "super green pass" requirement for anyone over the age of 12, including on the ski slopes. Required is a certified vaccination or proof of recovery and not merely a negative test.
On Feb. 1, exempt businesses include food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, opticians, and stores selling fuel and animal food. And "non-essential" shops and services will be extended to public offices, banks, post offices and tobacconists.
In Spain, Cantabria has lifted digital certificates with Catalonia and Andalusia planning to do the same. Catalonia also ends its curfew.
On Friday, Austria's parliament approved mandatory vaccines with violators fined. The rule is scheduled to begin Feb. 1 if it is signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen as expected.
In Asia over the past week, cases were up 31% with the total 94,884,827, fueled by the surge in India, and deaths increased 10% to 1,279,585.
India holds the world daily record for deaths, not including major reconciliations: 6,148 deaths in June. The Delta variant emerged in India.
India, which is the prime manufacturer of vaccines for the world, has a one-shot rate for the entire population of 67.1%.
Several states and union territories are continuing night curfew rules or Sunday lockdown, including in Delhi between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The pandemic began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation's death toll has stood at 4,636 for 12 months and 84th behind Palestine at 4,780. China added 56 cases Sunday.
In the central Chinese city of Xi'an, with a population of 13 million, the first commercial airline flights took off Saturday from there for the first time in a month. The city has been in lockdown since Dec. 22.
The Winter Olympics' scheduled start is Feb. 4 in Beijing, which reported its first Omicron case one week ago.
Most Chinese people won't be able to attend the Olympics with foreigners also banned. The Beijing 2022 organizing committee announced Monday that it was ending public ticket sales "to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators."
Japan, which hosted the Summer Olympics during the Delta surge, reported 14 deaths Sunday for a total of 18,523, rising 78 in a week.
On Friday through Feb. 13, Tokyo and 12 other areas are under a quasi-state of emergency. A full state of emergency ended three months ago. This included shortened business hours.
"This has been a fight against an unknown virus, but we hope to overcome this situation by preparing sufficiently without fearing excessively," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a meeting of the government's COVID-19 task force.
Japan has a relatively low 16,852 infection per million.
Japan's vaccination rate is 80.5% and South Korea's is 86.1%
South Korea's cases rose 7,628 Sunday the second-highest after a record 7,843 on Dec. 15 with 2020's highest 1,237 on Dec. 25. South Korea added 11 deaths Sunday after a record 109 on Dec. 23.
Indonesia ranks eighth in the world at 144,220 with an increase of 14 deaths Sunday, and 39 in a week, way down from a record 2,069 on July 27. The Asian nation's cases are 16th at 4,286,378 including 2,925 Sunday, a rise of 147% in a week, but a fraction of the record 54,000 in July. Indonesia has vaccinated 66.6% of its population with at least one dose.
Iran is 10th at 132,230 deaths, including 28 Sunday. Iran's one-shot vaccination rate is 71.8%.
Turkey is seventh in the world for cases at 10,947,129, including 65,503 reported Sunday. Turkey is 19th in deaths at 85,969 including 185 most recently. Turkey has a 68.6% vaccination rate.
Israel has a death toll of 8,393 with 22 reported Sunday and 44,580 cases for a total of 2,212,596.
Israel has lifted travel bans to destinations in Israel's list of "red" countries with high infection rates, including the United States, Britain and Canada. Instead, protocols are in place.
The CDC is advising against travel to Israel, rising it to "level four: very high." Other countries on the level four list include Canada, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and Britain.
Starting Saturday, foreign travelers to the United States were required to be fully vaccinated in updated rules from the Department of Homeland Security.
In North America, the deaths are 1,294,880 with a 5% weekly increase, and cases are 84,283,075, dropping 17%.
The United States' deaths decreased 2% and cases dropped 17%. On Saturday, the United States reported 841 deaths and 312,314 cases though more than half the states don't report data on weekends. On Sunday, it posted 197,374 cases and 574 deaths.
Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 303,085 with a weekly increase of 60% and 364 recorded on Saturday. The nation's cases rose 34% with 51,368 most recently for 14th at 4,646,957.
Canada's cases dropped 33% in one week with 14,295 on Sunday for 21st in cases with 2,92,369.
Until the Omicron variant, the record was 11,383 one year ago Jan. 3.
Canada's deaths went up 44% and the nation ranks 28th worldwide with 32,597 including 59 on Sunday and 212 Thursday, the most since a record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.
Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 850 and cases 75,948.
Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 84.1%. The United States is at 74.7% for one shot. Mexico's percentage is 65.1%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.
Ontario has more than 4,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, which is much higher than previous waves.
Starting Jan. 31, Ontario will allow restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theatres to reopen with 50% capacity. Larger venues will also be allowed to operate at half capacity or 500 people, whichever is less. Cinemas, sports facilities and other similar places still won't be allowed to serve food or drinks.
"There is no doubt that nobody wants to have all these restrictive measures anymore, and Omicron may or may not have put us one step toward that new reality," Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday during a COVID-19 briefing in Ottawa.
"So I think we need to plan for the different scenarios and just be ready for a time of emergence of new variants. But we've got to move on and see how we can make our societal functions closer to what they were before the pandemic."
Three Mexican states, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, are operating under orange status restrictions, according to the federal government's traffic light pandemic monitoring system. This includes limiting the number of workers on-site. Another 10 states are in yellow status and 10 are green, including Mexico City.
In South America, cases increased 34% in one week with a total of 45,828,998 and deaths were up 88% to 1,204,696.
Brazil reported 166 deaths Sunday with the record 4,211 in early April. Cases rose 202,466 Saturday, just a few thousand below the record four days earlier, with 1,721 on Jan. 2. On Sunday, cases were 84,230.
Also in the top 10 for deaths, Peru is sixth at 204,323. Colombia is 11th at 132,240, Argentina is 13th with 119,168 and Chile 23rd with 39,512
On Sunday, Chile reported 15 more deaths, Colombia 217, Argentina 65 and Peru 182. These numbers are way down from records: Peru with 1,154, Colombia with 754, Argentina with 791, Chile with 316.
Peru has the world's highest death rate at 6,060 per million people.
Some South American nations have high vaccination rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 90.2% with Argentina 86.5%, Brazil at 79.3%, Colombia at 78.4% and Peru 74.5%.
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo Carnival festivities have been postponed to April 21 from Feb. 25 to March 2 in a joint announcement Friday.
Earlier this month, the street parades were called off.
Like South America, it's summer in Oceania.
Until a few weeks ago, Australia had largely avoided mass infections, with only 2,688 as of Oct. 14. The nation reported 48,932 Sunday, about one-third of the record recently.
Overall, the nation has climbed to 28th with 2,196,869. Deaths are 3,121, including 58 more Sunday and 430 in one week for a 49% gain. On Friday, it set a daily record with 93, surpassing the past mark of 59 in early September 2020.
Australia's provinces had been in a months-long lockdown in an effort to keep cases low. But now Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared it was now possible to "live with this virus."
Students are scheduled to return to classrooms later this month after the break.
"We do expect that transmission potential, as we call it, will increase as schools go back. But that is something we need to deal with," chief medical officer Dr. Paul Kelly, said in a report by The Guardian. "All my colleagues in the states and territories agree that the most important thing is to get schools back."
Australia has vaccinated 82.3% of its population with at least one dose.
In Oceania, cases decreased in one week 33% after rising 45% for a total of 2,373,740 and deaths were up 48% after 178% for a total of 5,463.
New Zealand's deaths remained at 52 total and the nation added 71 cases Sunday with its record of 222 on Nov. 16.
New Zealand, which has a 78.5% vaccination rate, is on a traffic light system that had been based on vaccinations but before midnight Sunday everywhere went into Red everywhere. Auckland earlier ended its 107-day lockdown for vaccinated people.
Everyone will be required to wear masks in public venues and on public transportation. Meetings at larger venues will be curbed at 100 people.
Guam, a U.S. territory of fewer than 200,000 people, reported a record 815 cases Tuesday though 8.48% of its eligible population of 5 and older is fully vaccinated.
Though the variant emerged in Africa, the continent's situation has stabilized with a 5% weekly cases drop after 52% five weeks ago with a total of 10,746,476. Deaths went up 1% for a total toll of 236,765.
South Africa's infections decreased by about one-third five weeks after a 49% gain and deaths are down 13%. The Omicron variant was first reported on Nov. 24.
Overall, South Africa has reported 3,581,359 cases, in 19th worldwide, with 1,931 Sunday. Six weeks ago there was a record 37,875
The nation is 17th in deaths at 94,117, including 54 Sunday.
The World Health Organization noted South Africa has been on a downward trend for four weeks.
"So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are inevitable," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa, said in a United Nations news release Thursday. "Africa must not only broaden vaccinations, but also gain increased and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic."
South Africa's vaccination rate is only 32.7%.
Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 25,954 ahead of Egypt with 22,368.