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Japan's COVID-19 cases surge past 100,000 daily in near record

By Allen Cone
Travelers from overseas gather after their arrival at Narita International Airport in Narita, Japan, June 1, when the government relaxed border measures based on the improvement of the COVID-19 infection situation, doubling the maximum number of arrivals to the country to 20,000 a day. But cases recently have been spiking, including surging past 100,000 Sunday. Photo by Franck Robchon/EPA-EFE
Travelers from overseas gather after their arrival at Narita International Airport in Narita, Japan, June 1, when the government relaxed border measures based on the improvement of the COVID-19 infection situation, doubling the maximum number of arrivals to the country to 20,000 a day. But cases recently have been spiking, including surging past 100,000 Sunday. Photo by Franck Robchon/EPA-EFE

July 17 (UPI) -- COVID-19 cases are spiking again in Japan with infections topping 100,000 for the first time since a record in February during the emergence of the Omicron subvariant.

On Sunday, Japan reported 105,564 cases for a total of 10,335,243 in 13th place worldwide as the BA.5 Omicron subvariant spreads worldwide. Deaths rose by 17, bringing the total to 31,615 in 31st.

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In the first peak, cases hit 26,184 on Aug. 22, amid the Delta surge and two weeks after the close of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which were delayed one year because of the pandemic. The cases record is 105,816 on Feb. 6.

Before the Delta surge, the record was 7,785 on Aug. 19, 2021. In 2020, the most was 3,717 on Dec. 31.

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Worldwide, in the past week, infections dropped 3% at 6,387,270 with a daily average of 873,525, the highest in three months, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. On Jan. 21, the daily record was set at 3,840,795. The total Sunday is 567,647,192, including 534,267 Sunday and 670,081 Saturday.

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Meanwhile, fatalities dropped 7% for a total of 10,987 in the past week. That daily average of 1,570 with the recent low 1,216 July 4, which is the lowest since 1,076 on March 21, 2020, 10 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Sunday the total is 6,386,968, including 679 Sunday and 1,007 Saturday.

Some nations do not report data on weekends.

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Japan had the fifth-most cases in the past week, 506,017 with a 110% rise.

Other case increases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were South Korea 108% with 229,980, Peru 110% with 71,818, Guatamala 44% with 37,815, Romania 348% with 34,582, Iran 187% with 25,126.

The United States reported the most cases, 740,547 but an 8% drop, No. 2 France at 710,901 with a 21% delcline, No. 3 Italy at 671,277 with a 1% gain, No. 4. Germany at 670,724 with a 7% rise.

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Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with big increases in the past week: Italy 35% with 7844, third in world; Mexico 45% with 398; Thailand 25% with 199; Japan 47% with 156; South Korea at 68% with 104.

Like in cases, the United States reported the most deaths, 1,893 but a 20% drop. Brazil was second with 1,799 with an 11% rise. Germany was fourth with 671 and an 18% gain.

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Posting weekly cases increases were Asia 22% for 164,424,027, Oceania 5% for 10,609,135, South America 3% for 61,132,255. Declines were Africa 31% for 12,442,577, Europe 14% for a world-high 210,683,449, North America 3% for 108,080,712.

Gains in deaths were: Oceania 19% for 15,182 and South America 7% for 1,310,697. Drops were Africa 26% for 256,414, North America 15% for 1,496,776, Europe 11% for a world-high 1,864,932, Asia 3% for 1,443,254.

The U.S. leads with 1,048,843 fatalities and 91,275,149infections, according to Worldometers.info. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 909,017 on Jan. 13. Brazil is second in deaths at 675,408 and third in cases at 33,301,118. India is second in cases at 43,750,599, including 20,528 Sunday, the most since 22,271 Feb. 18.

India has the daily deaths record at 4,529 on May 18, 2021, with no adjustments from regions.

Russia is fourth in deaths at 381,811, including 46 Sunday and 39 on July 10, the least since 34 April 16, 2020, with France fourth in cases with 32,942,910.

In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 326,491, Peru sixth with 213,301, Britain seventh with 181,580, Italy eighth with 169,846, Indonesia ninth with 156,849, France 10th with 150,576.

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In the top 10 for cases, Germany is fifth with 29,692,989, British sixth with 23,075,360, Italy seventh with 20,076,863, South Korea eighth with 18,761,757, Russia ninth with 18,490,296, Turk 10th with 15,297,539.

In all, more than 12 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, a gain of more than 200 million in two weeks, with the world's population of 7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg tracking.

Broken down by world regions, Asia-Pacific has administered at least one dose to 80% of the population, with United States and Canada at 79%, the same as Latin America and Asia-Pacific with Europe at 69%, Middle East 57% and Africa at 24%, according to The New York Times tracking.

Japan is promoting a fourth shot to combat the spike in cases during the seventh wave.

Also, Japan is boosting free-of-charge coronavirus testing capacity at railway stations and airports, and making sure that effective ventilation is provided inside buildings.

"We are not considering movement restrictions at this juncture," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a meeting of the government's coronavirus task force Friday. "We'll stay on maximum alert and work for the recovery of social and economic activities."

These efforts mean Japan will "conduct a careful transition to normal while pursuing coexistence with the virus," Kishida said.

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Cases of the new BA.5 Omicron subvariant accounted for 56.4% of all new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Tokyo through July 4, exceeding those of the previously dominant BA.2 subvariant.

The BA.5 strain is also the most dominant in the United States, representing 65% of cases from July 3 to 9.

Unvaccinated people's chances of contracting the virus are five times higher chance than those who are vaccinated and boosted. Chances of hospitalization are 7.5 times higher, and deaths are 14 to 15 times higher, said Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group told NPR.

"Let me make a clear, clear point here that's a little tough to hear: Whether you've been vaccinated, whether you've been previously infected, whether you've been previously infected and vaccinated, you have very little protection against BA.5 in terms of getting infected or having mild to moderate infection," he said.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine in individuals 18 years of age and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to approve the new vaccine, which has been approved by the European Union at the end of 2021 and in Canada in February. Novavax Inc. is an American biotechnology company based in Gaithersburg, Md.

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Previously approved were vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Unlike those vaccines, Novavax uses traditional protein-based technology, unlike mRNA.

Two doses were 90% effective at preventing illness from coronavirus in a study involving about 30,000 adults ages 18 and older.

China, where COVID-19 emerged more than 2 1/2 years ago, has reported 5,226 deaths. Before a spike in April, it was 4,636, which stayed at that number since early February 2021.

On Thursday, China reported 432 cases, the most since May 25.

Shanghai, which was locked down because of the recent outbreak, has been trending down with 33 Saturday.

"The number of positive cases in Shanghai is dropping recently, but it remains difficult to trace the remaining risky groups due to the wide range of movements of the infections," said Yuan Zheng'an, a member of Shanghai's COVID-19 experts' team.

Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.

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