People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a makeshift testing station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday.
Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE
March 13 (UPI) -- South Korea, Germany and Vietnam accounted for 41.1% of new COVID-19 cases as infections rose by 6% worldwide in the past week.
The three nations helped drive an increase in COVID-19 infections despite accounting for only 3.9% of the population with global cases increasing 10,965,687 in the past seven days for a total of 458,153,536 by late Sunday, according to tracking by Worldometers.info.
The climb comes after infections dropped by 19% last week.
Deaths, which often lag behind infections, increased by 42,384 to a total of 6,065,788, a 16% decline in new fatalities from the previous week.
South Korea, with a population of 51.3 million people, gained a world-high 1,993,625 infections, a 44% spike in the past week, for a total of 6,556,453 in 14th. The country set a daily record with 383,651 Saturday with a weekly high of only a few hundred in 2020 and under 7,000 in 2021 to 630,836 at the end of last year. Sunday's increase was 350,176 and its deaths mark was 269 Saturday then 251 Sunday.
Germany, with 83.2 million residents, added 1,303,308 cases at a 20% rise for total 17,240,479 in seventh. The nation set a daily record with 300,270 cases Thursday then 213,264 Sunday. The nation first experienced a spike from Omicron in mid January and the fatality record was 1,249 on Dec. 29, 2020, but an average of 200 each day last week.
Vietnam, which has 98.8 million people, reported 1,108,498 new cases at a 35% increase for 5,903,147 in 15th. Vietnam set the daily mark with 177,976 Friday then 168,719 Saturday. On Sunday, the nation gained 166,968 cases and 95 deaths
Also setting daily records in the past week were Austria at 49,323 Friday and New Zealand at 23,936 Tuesday.
In South Korea, those under at-home treatment hit a high of 1.57 million last week.
But starting Monday, people who test positive for COVID-19 in a rapid antigen test at local hospitals won't require additional polymerase chain reaction test. Those who receive rapid antigen tests elsewhere will still have to receive PCR tests for official results.
Hong Kong's cases decreased 22% but posted 231,818 in the week and 1,955 deaths one week after a daily cases record of 56,827. Until this year, Hong Kong, an island of 7.6 million people that has separate governing and economic systems from Communist China, had reported only 163 deaths and 243,612 cases. In 2020, it was 148 deaths and 8,847 cases.
Saturday's totals were 27,747 cases and 285 deaths with the latter's record 294 Friday, which were followed by 32,430 cases and 264 deaths on Sunday.
In Mainland China, the nation of 1.5 billion people -- the largest population in the world -- the bulk of China's fatalities were announced only a few months after the first confirmed one in the world on Jan. 9, 2020. The last reported fatality was Jan. 28, 2021, and the figure now is 4,636 in 87th behind Sudan with 4,865.
China reported 1,938 cases Sunday, the most since mid February at the start of the outbreak.
On Sunday, China closed the southern business center of Shenzhen, which has a population of 17.5 million people and Hong Kong drivers would no longer be allowed to cross.
Shanghai starting Monday will suspend all cross-province bus service.
On Friday, the northeastern city of Changchun, with a population 9 million residents, ordered a lockdown. Only a few cases were reported in Changchun on Friday but the nation has a zero tolerance for coronavirus policy.
In Hong Kong, about 300,000 COVID-19 patients and their close contacts are under home quarantine, according to Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
"It has been so hard for our colleagues to hold up this past month," Ho Hiu-fai, the accident and emergency chief at Hong Kong's Queen Elizabeth hospital, said Wednesday in a video, shortly after the hospital was converted into a Covid treatment facility and 400 non-COVID patients were transferred elsewhere.
Hong Kong reported more deaths per million people than any country or territory in the past week at 257.
The nation is emphasizing vaccines with 84.9% of the population getting one dose and 72.6% two shots compared with Mainland China with 90.3% for one and 87.3% for both.
In all, more than 10.9 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, an increase of 100 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 78% of the population, followed by Latin America at 78%, Asia-Pacific 76%, Europe at 68%, Middle East 54% and Africa at 19%, according to The New York Times tracking.
Following is the rank order of some nations' vaccination rates elsewhere in Asia: Singapore 87.8%, India 70.3%, Malaysia 82.9%, Vietnam 81.8%, Japan 81%, Israel 76.5%, Iran 75.5%, Indonesia 71.5%, Turkey 69% and Philippines 63.1%.
In Asia over the past week, there were 4,884,798 cases, the most of the continents with an increase of 10%, for a total of 126,290,600, and deaths down 6% at 12,564 for a cumulative 1,372,764.
India's cases and deaths daily levels are the lowest since the start of the pandemic.
India holds the world daily record for deaths, not including major reconciliations: 6,148 last June. The Delta variant emerged in India.
India's cases declined 40% with 3,116 Sunday, the fewest since 2,680 May 5, 2020, to 42,990,991 in second place behind the United States. During the Omicron surge, the most cases has been 347,254 in January. The record during the Delta surge was 412,618 on May 5, 2021.
Fatalities dropped 40%, with 47 Sunday, tied for the lowest since April 25, 2020. The total is 515,850 in third behind the United States and Brazil.
Indonesia's weekly deaths declined 2% for a total of 152,166 in ninth place, including 215 Sunday but 401 Tuesday, the most since early September. The record is 2,069 in late July 2021.
Indonesia's cases dropped 29% for a total of 5,890,495 in 17th, including 11,585 Sunday. The record is 64,718 Feb. 16.
Japan reported 50,948 cases, 28 days after a record 100,959 with a 15% weekly drop. The total is 5,403,393. Until the surge, the record was 26,184 less than two weeks after the Olympics ended.
Japan also added 90 deaths Sunday for a total of 26,174, dropping 21%. The record was 322 on Feb. 22.
Japan has a relatively low 45,464 infections per million and deaths at 197 per million.
Iran is 12th in deaths at 138,949 including 118 Sunday.
Turkey is eighth in cases, adding 96,487 Sunday for a total of 14,551,665, and 19th in deaths at 96,487 including 138 new ones.
Israel has a death toll of 10,379 with 12 reported Sunday and 6,557 cases for a total of 3,719,444.
On Tuesday, all tourists were allowed entry into the country, regardless of vaccination status, and the Green Pass system, requiring present proof of vaccination for most venues, also ended.
Guam, a territory of the United States with only 169,000 people, reported 480.7 cases per 100,000 in the past week, only second behind the Northern Mariana Islands at 588.1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Idaho is the top state at 304.9. Guam has 46,299 cases and 337 deaths.
Guam has vaccinated 95% of its adults with at least one vaccine dose. The CDC caps its percentage at that level.
Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated. In the European Union, it's 75.8%, including 87.2% in Spain, 84% in France, 85% in Italy, 83.2% in Denmark, 77.3% in Netherlands, 76.4% in Germany, 76.5% in Austria. Britain, which has left the EU, has a 78.5% rate.
Russia is lagging the world in vaccination with 54% 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 37.9% and Romania at 42.1%. Poland's rate is 59.5% and Czech Republic's is 65%.
In Europe, cases increased 6% with a world-high 4,324,170, slightly behind Asia, for 165,073,421 in first place among continents. Deaths dropped 6% to a total of 1,739,008, also in first place.
Germany reported 32 deaths Sunday and is in 14th overall at 126,109.
Germany is in phase two of a reduction in restrictions with a "freedom day" on March 20 to end all rules.
But Germany's Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Friday: "We are in a situation that I would like to describe as critical.
"We have strongly rising case figures again ... I keep reading that the Omicron variant is a milder variant and that's only true to a limited extent.
"We cannot be satisfied with a situation in which 200 to 250 people are dying every day and the prospect is that in a few weeks more people will die."
On Sunday, Russia reported 596 deaths, the first time under 600 since late June, with the record 1,254 on Nov. 19, for a total of 360,811 in fourth place and a 13% drop in in the past week. In cases, Russia reported 44,989, down from the record 203,949 in February, for 17,335,186 in fourth place and a decrease of 38%, the sixth most in the world.
Netherlands was fourth with 475,454, a 42% gain, for a total of 7,168,183 in 12th, including 52,326 Sunday and a record 189,377 early last month.
France reported the fifth-most cases in the world in the past week and increased 21%. France's 23,453,722 total cases are fourth in the world, including 72,399 Saturday and 60,422 Sunday. The nation's daily record is 501,635 on Feb. 1.
France is 10th overall in deaths at 140,10i, including 29 Sunday.
France has the worst infection rate among large nations: 357,975 per million with the world at 58,701. The United States at 242,816. Denmark's rate is 482,169, Netherlands at 416,780 and Israel's is 398,122.
France will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccination shot to people over 80 years old who had their previous booster dose more than three months ago, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview published on Saturday.
In deaths elsewhere, Italy is eighth with 156,868, including 86 Sunday, and Britain seventh at 162,738, with no data released on weekends and 114 Friday. In the top 20: Poland 15th with 113,443, rising by 10 Sunday; Ukraine 16th with 106,985, with 86 Friday and data resuming last week after the invasion by Russia; and Spain 17th with 101,135 and no data on weekends.
Italy reported 48,886 infections Sunday with the record 228,179 in mid-January.
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced the state of emergency will end March 31 with the plan to "reopen everything as quickly as possible" he told Italian media in Florence.
Britain celebrated its Freedom Day on Feb. 24 with the end to restrictions. People aren't legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus.
Britain's deaths increased 28% with the record 1,824 in January one year ago. The cases mark is 218,724, also a year ago January, with a 21% weekly rise, including 72,828 Friday.
In North America, the deaths are 1,425,933 with a 24% weekly decrease, and cases are 95,700,383, declining 23%.
The United States' cases dropped 23% and deaths went down 21%. On Saturday, the United States reported 460 deaths and 12,261 cases though two-thirds didn't report data. Totals are 993,693 fatalities and 81,169,534 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 901,765 on Jan. 7.
Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 321,054 with a weekly decrease of 35% and 203 recorded Saturday and the record 1,417 in late January a year ago. The nation's cases decreased 31% with 6,352 most recently for 17th at 5,605,636.
Canada's cases dropped 0.8% in one week with 2,015 Saturday and 1,631 Sunday for 31st with 3,360,655. The record was 55,359 in mid-January. Canada's deaths are down 21% and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 36,884 including 20 Saturday and nine Sunday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.
Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 963 and cases 87,699.
Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 85.2%. The United States is at 75.9% for one shot. Mexico's percentage is 66.8%.
Quebec lifted almost all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including showing a vaccine passport at businesses and no capacity limits. Mask mandates remain in place.
Ontario plans to lift its mask mandate on March 21.
In Mexico, every area is "green" in the traffic light system of risk except Queretaro.
In South America, cases decreased 5% in one week with a total of 55,245,175 and deaths were down 13% to 1,268,067.
Brazil reported 146 deaths Sunday with the record 4,211 early last April for a total of 655,139 in second. Brazil's deaths remained unchanged in percentage with cases up 10%, with 18,397 most recently, for a total of 29,368,776 in third. The record is 286,050 in early February.
Also in the top 10 for deaths, Peru is sixth at 211,546. In the top 20, Colombia is 11th at 139,297, Argentina is 13th with 127,187 and Chile 23rd with 43,879.
On Sunday, Chile added 94 deaths, Colombia added 14, Peru 64 and Argentina 65.
Peru has the world's highest death rate at 6,266 per million people.
Some South American nations have high vaccination rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 91.6% with Argentina 89.4%, Brazil at 84.9%, Peru 83.1% and Colombia at 82.5%.
Like South America, it's summer in Oceania.
Cases increased 16% in one week for a total of 4,211,409 and deaths were down 37% for a total of 8,258.
In New Zealand, cases rose 3% one week after 222% with the nation of 5 million people reporting only a few hundred cases a day before the Omicron variant, including a record 216 on Nov. 24. On Sunday, New Zealand reported 14,533 for a total of 362,109, including a record 23,936 Tuesday.
The nation added eight deaths for a total of 101 with 68 at the start of the month.
New Zealand, has an 84.1% vaccination rate.
"I think what we are seeing is just how wonderful a vaccine we've got, that we're having a massive COVID-19 outbreak and not experiencing huge numbers of deaths," Dr. Philip Hill, a University of Otago professor of international health, told RNZ.
The nation is on a traffic light system. The entire country is in Red, meaning everyone will be required to wear masks in public venues and on public transportation. Customers are limited and events have been called off because of participation curbs.
Australia also had largely avoided mass infections until the Omicron surge, with only 2,688 on Oct. 14. The nation reported 29,247, one week after 19,561 and a record of 150,702 in mid January.
Overall, the nation has climbed to 28th in cases with 3,596,466. Deaths are 5,587 including 16 more Sunday. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134.
Australia, which no longer is in lockdown, has vaccinated 86.1% of its population with at least one dose.
Though the variant emerged in Africa -- Nov. 24 in South Africa -- the continent's situation has stabilized with a 25% weekly case drop with a total of 11,628,904. Deaths went down 41% for a total toll of 251,706.
South Africa's deaths went down 52% and cases dropped 7%.
Overall, South Africa has reported 3,693,532 cases, in 24th worldwide, with 1,570 Saturday. Thirteen weeks ago there was a record 37,875
The nation is 18th in deaths at 99,712, including three Saturday.
The number of excess during the pandemic is three times as much, 301,106, in the week ended March 5, according to South African Medical Research Council data released last week.
"It is very high," said Tom Moultrie, a demography professor at the University of Cape Town who helped compile the report. "The excess deaths are really the flag in the ground, which tells us what's going on with COVID."
South Africa's vaccination rate is only 35.4%.
Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 28,031 ahead of Egypt with 24,277.