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World's weekly COVID-19 deaths drop 10% to lowest level since pandemic began

By Allen Cone
World's weekly COVID-19 deaths drop 10% to lowest level since pandemic began
Compound management members deliver food to quarantined people amid a full lockdown of the city in Shanghai, China, on Wednewsday. Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE

May 1 (UPI) -- COVID-19 deaths are at the lowest level since the pandemic began more than two years ago with cases the fewest in five months though there are some hotspots, including Mainland China where the pandemic originated.

Coronavirus' seven-day moving average of deaths was 2,301, the lowest since 1,911 on March 25, 2020, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. That includes 1,366 reported Saturday with 1,691 April 18. The record was 17,006 Jan. 20, 2021, amid the Delta variant surge.

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Cases' moving average dropped to 567,259, which is the lowest since 564,755 on Nov. 23 before the Omicron variant emerged. On Saturday infections were 423,738. The record was 3,817,940 Jan. 21.

In all, 513,501,302 cases have been reported worldwide, including 3,970,821 in the past week, for a 16% decrease in tracking by Worldometers.info on Sunday. And deaths rose by 16,108 over seven days, a 10% drop, for a cumulative 6,261,273.

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Infections and fatalities decreased on every continent except cases up in North America and Africa, and deaths rising in Oceania.

A subvariant, BA.2.12.1, along with another version of Omicron, called BA.2.12, has led to a spike but illnesses are not as severe or even as deadly.

That includes the United States, which leads the world in deaths and cases. But it is moving out of the pandemic phase, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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"We are now transitioning -- not there yet, but transitioning -- to more of an endemicity, where the level of infection is low enough that people are starting to learn how to live with the virus, still protecting themselves by vaccination, by the availability of antivirals, by testing," Fauci said Wednesday during an interview with The Washington Post.

The situation remains severe in some parts of the world.

In China, there were 336 deaths in the past week, the most since early in the pandemic in March 2020. On Sunday, 38 fatalities were reported with 52 on Thursday the most also since March 2020.

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The total is 5,060 in 87th, behind Palestine with 5,353. From January 201 until this March there were no deaths reported. At the end of last year, the death count was 4,636.

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Elsewhere, deaths are up 39% in Mexico, 43% in India, 33% in Brazil, 6% in Germany, 1% in France. Fatalities rose in India but they are at pandemic lows.

Cases' spikes include 7% in the United States, 7% in Brazil, 6% in Spain,

Asia had the biggest weekly decline in cases at 23% for a cumulative 148,024,851, followed by Europe at 18% for 191,230,785, South America 3% for 56,802,343, Oceania at 8% with 7,194,504, and North America rising 2% for 98,341,982 and Africa 0.6% for 11,906,166.

In deaths, Africa decreased 55% for 253,795, followed by North America at 16% for 1,459,893, Europe at 10% for 1,818,232, Asia at 8% for 1,424,249, South America at 0.8% for 1,24,462 but Oceania up 113% for 10,627.

In all, more than 11.6 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, an increase of 200 million in a 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 79% of the population, ahead of Latin America and Asia-Pacific at 78%, Europe at 69%, Middle East 56% and Africa at 21%, according to The New York Times tracking.

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Asia

Cases continue to surge in Mainland China to a total of 216,587 with the figure 87,052 at the end of last year. On Friday, there were 5,659 cases, which is the second-highest ever with the record 14,108 Feb. 12, 2020. Sunday's rise was 928.

Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately.

Of the total 10,703 total reported Sunday, 9,166 were in Shanghai, where the entire 25 million residents have been in a lockdown for more than one month. All of the cases were limited to people already in quarantine and none in the so-called guarded zones. Since the outbreak, cases have reached 563,000.

Confirmed cases Sunday were 788 in the city.

"Technically, Shanghai has achieved the societal zero-Covid goal, paving the way for the Shanghai government to ramp up business activity," told Eric Han, senior manager at business advisory firm Suolei the South China Morning Post. "We predict that some shops and restaurants in the low-risk areas will be allowed to reopen in the coming few days."

The city remains "at a critical stage" and the government will continue to tighten restriction measures at the community level, Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai health commission, told a press briefing Saturday.

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In Beijing, the nation's capital, there is no lockdown but local officials have banned dining in restaurants until Wednesday, which is when the five-day May Day holiday ends.

The city had 53 confirmed cases Sunday.

China has the world's largest population in the world at 1.5 billion.

Hong Kong reported 300 cases Sunday for a total of 1,204,510 with the record 56,827 on March 10, and five fatalities for a cumulative 9,313, including a record 294 March 11. 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.

Hong Kong has eased social distancing, including allowing leisure shopping, but it is prepared to make rapid testing more available.

On Sunday, Korea reported 37,771 cases, the least since early February with the record 621,328 March 17. And deaths were 81. The record was 470 on March 24 with the mark until this year 109 on Dec. 23.

South Korea reported 652,167 cases in the past week, which second-most cases in the world behind Germany with 652,167 though it was a 34% weekly decline and deaths were ninth in the world with 770, a 32% decline, behind No. 1 United States, No. 2 Britain. The nation is eighth in the world at 7,275,649 cases with only 630,748 reported through the end of last year.

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Deaths are 22,875 in 39th.

On Monday, South Korea will lift its outdoor mask mandate, one week after allowing eating inside movie theaters, indoor gyms and religious places.

India's deaths are at pandemic lows but cases have been spiking, also after minimal levels.

On Sunday, India reported 3,324 cases for a total of 43,057,545 in second -- the fourth day in a row above 3,000 -- behind the United States, a gain of only 21,643. in one week. The record was 414,438 May 6, 2021, and the recent low was 949 April 14.

India, which has the second-highest population in the world at 1.4 billion, has a total of 523,843, including 40 Sunday. In the past week, there were 1,620 deaths though Assam logged 1,347 backlog deaths, third behind the United States and Brazil. Single deaths were reported the previous week with zero the last time March 24, 2020, with the record 6,148 last June when the Delta variant emerged there.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is ninth in deaths at 156,273, including 16 Sunday and 18th in cases at 6,047,040 with 244 Sunday. The records are 64,718 infections in Feburary and 2,069 last July.

Iran is 11th in deaths at 141,096, gaining 13 Sunday.

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In the past week, Vietnam's cases dropped 42%. The Asian nation added 3,717 cases Sunday with the record 203,036 in March. The nation is 12th overall in the world with 10,653,526

And deaths are 43,042 in 24th with 1 more Sunday.

Turkey is 10th in cases at 15,032,093 including 1,772 Saturday but 19th in deaths at 98,771 adding 11 Saturday.

Following is the rank order of some nations' vaccination rates in Asia: Mainland China 90.7%, Hong Kong 89.3%, Singapore 88.1%, South Korea 87%, Malaysia 84.3%, Vietnam 82.7%, Japan 82%, Iran 76.5%, Israel 76.5%, Indonesia 73.8%, India 72.8%, Turkey 69.1% and Philippines 67%.

Europe

Four nations are in the top 10 for deaths: Russia fourth with 376,031 including 147 Sunday; Britain seventh at 174,912 with no data on weekends; Italy eighth at 163,612 with 105 Sunday and France 10th at 145,962 with 32 Sunday.

Germany is 13th in deaths at 135,913 including 13 Sunday but fifth in cases at 24,770,313, including 8,713 Sunday.

Germany had the most cases in the world in the past week but dropped 7%.

France had the third-most in the past week, 400,308, dropping 29%, and is at 28,682,011 in fourth overall in the world, adding 36,726 Sunday with the record 501,635 Feb. 1.

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Italy is fourth worldwide in the past week with 383,406 and 40,757 Saturday for a total of 16,504,791in ninth.

Last week Britain reported the most deaths in Europe at 1,447, but a 23% decline, including 451 Tuesday.

On Sunday, Russia's deaths were the least since 125 on Oct. 12, 2020, as well as 7,047 cases Sunday in seventh overall at 18,189,401.

Russia is lagging the world in vaccinations with 55.3% 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 38% and Romania at 42.3%. Poland's rate is 59.9% and Czech Republic's is 65.1%.

Most nations in Europe are heavily vaccinated. In the European Union, it's 76.1%, including 87.5% in Spain, 85.1% in Italy, 84.2% in France, 83.1% in Denmark, 77.6% in Germany, 77.3% in Netherlands, 76.6% in Austria.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate allows restriction-free travel across all EU and European Economic Area countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.

Most European nations have dropped their restrictions. In Spain and mainland Portugal, masks are no longer mandatory on public transportation.

Last week, the European Union said it was moving out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, and instead concentrating on vaccination, pandemic surveillance and testing.

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"New variants can emerge and spread fast," Ursula von der Leyen, the commission's president, said. "But we know the way forward. We need to further step up vaccination and boosting, and targeted testing -- and we need to continue to coordinate our responses closely in the E.U."

North America

The United States and Mexico are in the top 10 for most deaths.

The United States' deaths dropped 23% in one week but cases were up 2%. On Saturday, the United States reported 115 deaths and 24,741 cases though only 10 states reported data. Totals are 1,0290,833 fatalities and 823,066,967 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 903,333 on Jan. 7.

The last time cases were above 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 115,931 on Feb. 22. The seven-day moving average is 56,166.

Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 324,294 with a weekly increase of 49% and 40 recorded Saturday and the record 1,417 in late January a year ago. The nation's cases rose 28% with 958 most recently for 20th at 5,733,514.

Canada's cases decreased 15% in one week with 2,38 Sunday after 15,346 Thursday, for 31st with 3,751,321. The record was 55,359 in mid-January. Canada's deaths are the same as last week and the nation ranks 26th worldwide with 39,260 including 17 Sunday with the record 257 on Dec. 29, 2020.

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Canada has low rates per million with deaths at 1,023 and cases at 97,770. The United States is at 3,051 deaths per million compared with the world at 803.2 and 248,299 cases per million and the world at 65,864.

High on the world list in cases per million: Iceland 537,469, Denmark 508,940, Netherlands 467,747, Austria 455,477 and Israel 434,070.

Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 86.7%. The United States is at 76.8% for one shot. Mexico's percentage is 67.1%.

Eastern Health, which is the largest, integrated health authority in Newfoundland and Labrador, says some healthcare workers can come to work while they are infected with COVID-19. The worker can no longer have a fever, and symptoms must be improving.

South America

In the top 10 for most deaths are Brazil in second at 663,551 and Peru sixth with 212,810. Colombia is 12th at 139,797.

Brazil reported 67 deaths Saturday with a record 4,211 early last April. Brazil's deaths rose 33% and cases were up 7% with 15,194 most recently, for a total of 30,448,236 in third. The record is 286,050 in early February.

Peru has the world's highest death rate at 6,294 per million people, nearly more than 1,000 more than second-place Bulgaria, and no report Saturday.

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Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 92.1% with Argentina 90.4%, Peru 86.7%, Brazil 86.2% and Colombia at 83.7%.

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro ended Saturday, the first time since the pandemic with this year's delayed from February before Lent.

In Colombia, the indoor mask mandate ended Sunday.

Oceania

Australia reported 39,258 cases Sunday with a record of 150,702 in mid-January and a 10% weekly drop. Until the Omicron surge, the record was 2,688 on Oct. 14. Overall, the nation has climbed to 20st in cases with 5,928,306.

Deaths are 7,223, including 34 more Sunday. On Jan. 28, it set a daily record with 134.

Australia, which no longer is in lockdown, has vaccinated 86.7% of its population with at least one dose.

In New Zealand, cases decreased by 11 with the nation of 5 million people reporting only a few hundred cases a day before the Omicron variant, including a record 216 at the time on Nov. 24. On Sunday, New Zealand reported 5,728 cases for a total of 936,697 with the record 24,106 March 2.

The nation added five deaths for a total of 707 with 68 at the start of March and an 84.3% vaccination rate.

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On Sunday, New Zealand ended its international travel ban for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. No isolation is required if they are vaccinated and do a pre-departure and arrival test.

Africa

South Africa is reporting a surge as winter arrives with a 1% weekly increase.

Overall, South Africa has reported 3,791,925 cases, in 30th worldwide, with 6,527 Saturday, the most since early January. The record was 37,875 during the Omicron surge.

The nation is 18th in deaths at 100,363, including three Saturday.

Other diseases also are rising in Africa.

Almost 17,500 cases of measles were recorded in the African region between January and March 2022, marking a 400% increase compared with the same period in 2021. Twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than that in the first three months of 2021.

"The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases is a warning sign," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, said last week. "As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be severely strained not only by COVID-19 but by other diseases."

South Africa's vaccination rate is only 36.4% with Egypt at 45.8% and Tunisia at 60.7.

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Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 28,550 ahead of Egypt with 24,613.

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