Tourists lie on a beach in Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia, on Wednesda. The Indonesian National Statistical Bureau reported more than 470,000 foreign tourists arrivals in July, the highest number since the easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. On Sunday, the nation reported 16 deaths, with a 10% weekly decline, and 1,411 cases, a 16% seven-day drop. Photo by Made Nagi/EPA-EFE
Sept. 25 (UPI) -- COVID-19 deaths worldwide are the lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, including dropping under 1,000 daily last week, and cases are the fewest since July, 2021 with few hotspots.
The seven-day moving average for deaths was down to 1,242, the fewest since 1,074 March 21, 2020, 10 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, according to Worldometers.info.
And cases were at 410,802, which is the least since 397,468 July 5, 2021. Worldwide, cases dropped 15% to 2,875,614 with the total 620,244,913 Sunday. And deaths declined to 8,692, a 24% drop, with the cumulative 6,540,379.
Few big countries reported increases in both categories in the past week, mainly in Europe. Case rises include Germany, France, Italy, Austria -- all under 44%. In deaths, gains were in Russia, Taiwan, Philippines, France, Rolland -- all under 13%.
Daily deaths worldwide dropped to 500 Sunday, the fewest since 464 March 13, 2020, and 738 Saturday. Last Sunday, they dropped to 966, the first time under 1,000 since 962 on June 19, after revisions were made with update by Worldometers.info.
Cases were 251,473, the lowest number since 241,900 on Sept. 28, 2020, and 330,208 Saturday. The last time cases were above 1 million was July 31.
Some nations do not report data on weekends. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't report data on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The records were 3,846,212 cases on Jan. 21, during the height of the Omicron subvariant, and 16,815 deaths on Jan. 21, 2021, when the Delta subvariant was at its peak.
Some of the most recent hotspots -- Japan and South Korea -- are subsiding. On Sunday, Japan added 46,788 infections, an 15% decline from the previous week, for a total of 21,078,759 in ninth worldwide with the record 255,534 five weeks ago. In the past week, Japan led the world with 426,780.
Also, Japan gained 49 deaths for a total of 44,418 in 25th globally, 22 days after a record 291. Its 729 deaths were in second but a 40% decrease.
South Korea posted the sixth-most weekly cases 234,634, a 39% decrease, for a total of 23,569,192, but only 25,792 Sunday, in sixth place. The nation added 73 deaths for a cumulative 28,213 in 37th, including a 1% weekly gain at 358, sixth-most worldwide.
Though the BA.5 Omicron subvariant is still spreading worldwide, President Biden told 60 Minutes last Sunday the pandemic was over, although we still have a "problem" with COVID-19.
"We're still doing a lotta work on it," he told CBS' Scott Pelley. "It's- but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one's wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it."
The World Health Organization has not yet declared COVID-10 an endemic.
In the past week, Asia reported 39% of the world's cases though it dropped 25% for a cumulative 189,087,470, according to Worldometers.info. The continent has 59% percent of the world's population.
Europe was the only continent to increase in cases, 3%, for a cumulative world-high 226,008,754. Decreasing were North America 31% for 116,116,729, Africa 34% for 12,642,282, South America 20% for 64,041,121, Oceania 12% for 12,347,836.
Africa also the sole one to gain in deaths, 48%, for 257,592. Decreasing were Oceania 50% for 20,623, North America 30% for 1,536,768, Europe 22% for a world-high 1,917,706, Asia 20% for 1,478,529, South America 20% for 1,329,146.
The United States leads with 1,081,715 fatalities and 97,905,915 infections. The nation also holds the world record for daily cases at 906,886 on Jan. 7. Brazil is second in deaths at 685,860, including 23 Sunday and fourth in cases at 34,674,422, including 1,201 Sunday.
India is second in cases at 44,568,114, including 4,765 Sunday and third in deaths at 528,510, including 1 Sunday with single deaths also reported in April and zero the last time on March 24, 2020.
India has the daily deaths record at 4,529 on May 18, 2021, with no adjustments from regions.
Case increases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were Germany 19% with No. 5 271,695, France 21% with No. 7 232,434, Italy 20% with No. 8 135,877, Austria 43% with No. 9 47,828, Australia 1% with No. 11 44,475.
Also in the top 10 for most cases, No. 2 Brazil 363,819 with a 1% decrease, No. 3 United States 290,395 with a 31% drop, No. 4 Taiwan 280,202 with 0.2% lower, No. 10 Brazil 46,131 with 16% decrease.
Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with increases in the past week: Russia 5% with No. 3 718, Taiwan 12% with No. 9 285, Philippines 8% with No. 11 245, France 2% with No. 13 204, Poland 6% with No. 20 105.
Also in the top 10 for most deaths, No. 1 United States 1,928 but a 29% drop, No. 4 Germany 17% with a 17% decrease, No. 5 Brazil 15% with 15% lower, No. 7 Italy 321 with 13% decrease, No. 8 Britain 311 with 24% decrease, No. 10 Spain 254 with 57% plunge. Russia is fourth overall in deaths at 386,757 including 95 Sunday.
In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 330,017 and no data on weekend, Peru sixth with 216,493 and 20 Sunday, Britain seventh with 189,919 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 176,880 including 13 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 158,014 including 16 Sunday and France 10th with 154,887 with no change on the weekend.
In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 35,157,046 including 31,365 Sunday, Germany is fifth with 32,952,050, Britain seventh with 23,621,952, Italy eighth with 22,303,606 including 18,794 Sunday, Russia 10th with 20,792,921 including 46,758 Sunday.
In all, more than 12.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, a gain of less than 100 million in one week, with the world's population of 7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg tracking. Mainland China leads with 3.5 billion doses administered and a 92.4% one-shot vaccination rate among the 1.5 billion population, the most in the world. India is second with 2.2 billion among the 1.4 billion population and a 74.4% rate.
Broken down by world regions, Latin American countries have administered at least one dose to 81% of the population, with Asia-Pacific and U.S.-Canada 80%, Europe at 69%, Middle East 58% and Africa at 28%, according to The New York Times tracking. These percentages didn't change in the past two weeks.
Japan, which has an 82.8% one-shot vaccination rate among all residents, is in the midst of a seventh wave amid the BA.5 Omicron variant.
On Oct. 11, Japan next month plans to drop a ban on individual tourist visits and remove a 50,000 cap on daily arrivals, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday. Those were the strongest restrictions among the Group of Seven nations.
Also, the government will begin a nationwide travel discount program, which had been paused during the pandemic. People vaccinated three times or submitting a negative test result will be eligible for the discounts of up to $77 per person for a one-day night.
"I hope many people will utilize them," Kishida said at a news conference. "I want to support the travel, entertainment and other industries that have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic."
Last November, Japan imposed a near-full ban on new entries by foreigners. In March, supervised entry for students and business travelers was allowed, then guided group travel for tourists in June.
Japan has 353 deaths per million, which is 145th in the nation, with the world at 839 and Peru No. 1 at 6,368. In cases, Japan's rate is 167,367 per million in 196th place with the world 79,560 and Austria the highest among large countries at 556,282 with Portugal 540,547, France 535,495 and Denmark 531,999. Japan's population is 125 million.
South Korea's cases are at three-month lows with the Chuseok holiday with a seven-day moving average of 33,519. In late June it was around 7,000. The daily record was 621,328 on March 17. Starting Monday, the nation will no longer require masks for outdoor group activities. General outdoor use ended May 2. South Korea plans to keep the indoor mask mandate, because of a projected resurgence in COVID-19 infections during the fall and winter seasons.
In a recent South Korea government survey involving 10,000 people, 97.4% percent had COVID antibodies, 57.7% through infection.
China, where COVID-19 emerged more than 2.5 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 Sunday, China reported 217 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.
Chengdu, a metropolitan area of 21 million on Monday lifted a lockdown, which has been in effect since Sept. 1.
Hong Kong, like China, has adopted a "zero tolerance" for coronavirus. But starting Monday, people arriving will no longer have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine. They cannot enter common areas, restaurants or shopping malls, for the first three days after arrival. They also have to undergo PCR tests on day two, four six.
"Hong Kong has been isolated from the international community for two-and-half years, and is suffering from it," Hao Hong, chief economist of Grow Investment Group told the BBC. "While the end to hotel quarantine is a step forward, rebuilding confidence takes time, especially against the tide of exodus of talents from Hong Kong."
He added: "The fact that Hong Kong can move on this even as mainland China keeps its Covid stance largely unchanged for now strengthens the case for the 'two systems' part of the 'one-country, two systems' arrangement that gives Hong Kong its special status within China."
Hong Kong reported 10 deaths and 3,897 cases Sunday with the record 79,876 on March 3.
The BA.5 Omicron strain has become the most dominant in the world, accounting for 84.8% of cases in the United States, according to the CDC projections through Saturday. The strain was first tracked in late April.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified 7% of counties, districts and territories with a "high" category level, compared with 321.2% "medium" and 61.7% "low." In "high" locations, masks are urged indoors.
The seven-day moving average for cases Thursday was 53,376, the lowest since 50,668 April 26, according to the CDC. And the deaths average Wednesday fell to 352, the lowest since 318 on June 22.
New hospitalizations in the United States from Aug. 31 to Tuesday were 3,971, which is a 9.9% weekly drop. A total of 5,327,014 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception with a population of 332 million. The U.S. total reported Sunday was 28,969, which is 4.15% capacity, and far below the record 160,113 (20.6%) on Jan. 20, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
On Thursday in its weekly report, the CDC said the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate was 90.4% with compared primary service at 77.5% and one booster at 51.8%. The full population rates are 79.5% for one shot, 67.8% for two, 48.7% for three, 35.5% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster. The CDC previously listed the two-shot regimen as "fully vaccinated."
The CDC says 1.5% of eligible people, around 4.4 million, have received the updated booster that targets Omicron after the rollout three weeks ago. The data doesn't include people who received updated Pfizer-BioNTech boosters in Idaho and Texas, the CDC said.
Those older than 12 are eligible.
In portions of Europe, cases are rising as winter and colder weather is being felt.
"We in Europe still consider the pandemic as ongoing and it's important that member states prepare for rollout of the vaccines and especially the adaptive vaccines to prevent further spread of this disease in Europe," the European Medicines Agency's Chief Medical Officer Steffen Thirstrup told a media briefing last week.
In Britain, hospitalizatons were up 17% in one week.
"While COVID-19 rates are still low, the latest data for the last seven days indicate a rise in hospitalizations and a rise in positive tests reported from the community," said Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a report by Politico. "All of the available boosters provide good protection against severe illness from COVID-19."
European nations have has approved boosters that target two types of the Omicron variant. COVID-19 vaccination rates in low-income countries stand at 19%, compared to almost 75% in high-income countries, according to information from a World Health Organization Diagnostics and Therapeutics Working Group.
"The swift, equitable roll-out of vaccines, tests and treatments is crucial to help countries combat COVID-19," Ian Dalton, senior head of Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics at the Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said. "Without adequate testing and sequencing, the world is blind to the evolution of the virus and potential new variants. People in low and middle-income countries continue to die due to a lack of access to antiviral treatments and oxygen. We must push on for equitable access to COVID-19 tools, despite multiple competing priorities."