Mainland China's COVID-19 cases drop; world weekly down 3%

By Allen Cone
People wearing face masks pick food in a cafeteria in Beijing, China, on Thursday. Chinese officials announced an easing of the COVID-19 restriction measures on Thursday. Beijing restaurants restored dine-in services and people now need COVID-19 negative results taken within 48 hours to dine in. Photo by Wu Hao/EPA-EFE
People wearing face masks pick food in a cafeteria in Beijing, China, on Thursday. Chinese officials announced an easing of the COVID-19 restriction measures on Thursday. Beijing restaurants restored dine-in services and people now need COVID-19 negative results taken within 48 hours to dine in. Photo by Wu Hao/EPA-EFE

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Mainland China's COVID-19 cases are one-quarter of a record high 14 days ago with no fatalities reported in the past week as the nation reduced lockdowns in the first major policy changes since the virus originated there nearly three years ago.

On Sunday, China reported 10,815 cases, less than the record 39,791.


Worldwide, infections declined 3%, one week after a 3% increase, the first increase in a few weeks, to 3,269,816 for a cumulative 653,547,487. Fatalities were down 10% for 9,221 for a total 6,658,277 according to

The seven-day average of 1,318 deaths are the lowest since 1,232 March 22, 2020, 11 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

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On Sunday, 488 deaths, the least since 433 March 13,2020, and 334,012 cases were reported. Saturday's fatalities were 639 and infections were 358,500.


Some nations do not report data on weekends. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has gone to weekly updates.

The records were 3,851,058 cases on Jan. 21, during the height of the Omicron subvariant, and 16,915 deaths on Jan. 21, 2021, when the Delta subvariant was at its peak. Worldometers sometimes updates totals from as far back as the start of the pandemic.

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China's cases have been trending down.

On Sunday ago, China reported 31,824 cases. The virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The number of confirmed cases Sunday was 2,338. It was 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.

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Saturday's figures were 10,729 asymptomatic and 3,982 confirmed for a total of 13,811.

The total confirmed cases: 360,734 in 98th place in the world.

On Nov. 20, China reported its first death from COVID-19, the first in six months.

The death toll remained at 5,235 in 89th place worldwide. Before a spike in April, that necessitated a lockdown, it was 4,636, which stayed at that number since early February 2021.

Until last week, China had maintained a "zero tolerance" for coronavirus.


On Wednesday, China announced it would loosen its stringent COVID-19 controls for the first time in three years after widespread protests against the draconian policies broke out across the country and escalated into calls for greater freedom.

As part of a new 10-point guideline released by China's National Health Commission, large-scale lockdowns will be curtailed and people with mild or no symptoms will be allowed to isolate at home rather than being forced into government camps. Frequent COVID-19 tests and health verification apps will also no longer be necessary to enter most public facilities, except for elderly care homes, medical institutions, and primary and secondary schools.

Despite a surge, Chinese officials are still downplaying the risks of COVID-19.

The death rate from the Omicron variant is around 0.1%, similar to the common flu.

Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, in an interview with the state news agency Xinhua, said it rarely reaches the lungs and usually people recover within seven to 10 days.

"It is highly unlikely that people will be restricted from travelling home for Lunar New Year celebrations in 2023, but it is still important to step up preparations," Nanshan said. "I suggest that people who are ready to travel back home should get booster vaccinations so that they won't develop serious symptoms even if they catch Covid."


The Lunar New Year holiday runs from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27 though it lasts about 40 days as people take off before and after the official break.

On Sunday, China issued a plan to enhance capacity of county-level medical facilities to better protect people living in rural areas, including boosting intensive care unit capacity by the end of December.

The Communist Party's flagship People's Daily on Sunday praised the local governments new COVID measures, writing it is "proactive rather than passive. While advancing the latest optimization plan, China does not shy away from acknowledging the challenges, and is determined to ramp up vaccination efforts among the elderly and increase the capacity of intensive care units."

The newspaper noted: "It has been clearly demonstrated that China has effectively juggled its COVID response with its economic and social development. China's steadfast approach gained time to help it better understand COVID, to research and develop vaccines and therapeutics, as well as to boost vaccination levels.

China's vaccination rate is 92% with at least once dose but just 40 percent of Chinese older than 80 have received the extra shot. Initially they were offered to only adults 19 to 60.


Hong Kong, like China, has adopted a "zero tolerance" for coronavirus with strong restrictions eased, including hotel quarantine for arrivals from other nations.

Hong Kong reported 24 deaths and 14,918 cases Sunday, the most since 20,082 March 18, with the record 79,876 on March 3.

Starting Friday, Hong Kong shortened to five from days in isolation for people who test positive and their close contacts, and will require inbound travelers to take two fewer rapid tests.

Hong Kong residents may be allowed to travel to mainland China without quarantine before Lunar New Year, the South Morning Post has learned. The scheme would allow a quota big enough to meet the demands of most Hongkongers, according to two official mainland sources.

In the past week, Asia reported 46.7% of the world's confirmed cases and it rose 7% for a cumulative 201,657,836 according to The continent has 59% percent of the world's population.

Also increasing: South America 4% for 65,723,573.

Decreases were North America 25% for 119,985,165, Oceania 23% for 13,273,669, Africa 8% for 12,722,485, Europe 8% for a world-high 240,410,809.

Four continents reported increases in deaths: Africa 66% for 258,239, Oceania 12% for 22,646, South America 7% for 1,337,532, Asia 6% for 1,502,501 and South America also 13% for 1,337,480.


Decreasing were North America 32% for 1,569,284 and Europe 13% for a world-high 1,968,320.

Japan, France, South Korea, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong reported increases in both deaths and cases in the past week.

Japan again posted the most weekly cases, 819,763 in a 8% increase and was second in deaths at 1,319, a 14% gain.

France's 430,453 infections were second in the world, with a 11% rise, and deaths were 480, a 4% drop in fifth.

South Korea was third in infections with 412,637, a 11% increase with deaths 360, a 6% rise in eighth.

The only other cases' increase among nations with at least 25,000: Brazil 5% in fifth at 203,062, Germany 9% in sixth at 201,065, Hong Kong 34% in 10th at 83,602, Russia 12% in 12th at 47,053, China 3% i n 14th at 28,782.

Decreases in the past week in descending order were United States 29% in fourth at 277,191, Italy 32% in seventh at 153,948, Taiwan 2% i n eighth at 99,896, Australia 9% in ninth at 97,786, Peru 7% in 11th at 62,878, Austria 4% in 13th at 31,739.

Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with increases in the past week: Germany 9% in third at 768, Brazil 4% in fourth at 693, Spain 21% in 10th at 269, Australia 39% in 12th at 207, Peru 42% in 14th at 166, Philippines 19% in 16th at 155, Hong Kong 23% in 17th at 145, Mexico 373% in 18th at 142, Thailand 42% in 19th at 105.


Decreases were United States 30% at No. 1 at 1,594, Italy 29% in sixth at 475, Russia 1% in seventh at 384, Britain 24% in ninth at 336, Indonesia 21% in 11th at 245, Taiwan 20% in 13th at 192, Chile 11% in 15th at 165.

The United States leads with 1,109,851 fatalities and 101,324,888 infections. The nation also holds the world record for daily cases at 906,799 on Jan. 7. Brazil is second in deaths at 690,946, including 40 Sunday, and fifth in cases at 35,615,590 including 12,369 most recently.

India is second in cases at 44,674,649, including 206 Sunday, the lowest since 146 March 30, 2020, and third in deaths at 530,654 including one most recently. Zero the last time was March 24, 2020.

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

In the top 10 for deaths, Russia is fourth with 392,611 including 51 Sunday, Mexico is fifth with 330,667 and no weekend data, Peru sixth with 217,636 including 12 Saturday, Britain seventh with 197,723, Italy eighth with 182,419, Indonesia ninth with 160,224 including 26 Sunday and France 10th with 159,611.

In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 38,504,843 including 46,422 Sunday, Germany fourth with 36,758,926, South Korea sixth with 277,728,482 including 54,319 Sunday, Japan seventh with 26,069,823 including 119,174 Sunday, Italy eighth with 24,709,404, Britain ninth with 24,053,576, Russia 10th with 21,665,152 including 7,096.


On Wednesday, Japan reported 149,383 cases, the most since 151,513 Sept. 2, with 135,761 Saturday. And deaths Sunday were 142 after 243 Thursday, the most since 261 Sept. 9.

Japan's seven-day moving case average is 135,761 compared with 26,325 Oct. 12 and under 20,000 in early July with the daily record 255,316 Aug. 18.

Throughout the pandemic Japan has had a low deaths rate.

Japan has 412 deaths per million, which is 141st in the nation, with the world at 852.2 and Peru No. 1 at 6,461. In cases, Japan's rate is 207,587 per million in 86th place with the world 83,844 and Austria the highest among large countries at 619,116 with France 586,395, Portugal 547,225 and Denmark 540,457. Japan's population is 125 million.

Medical institutions in Japan began prescribing the first domestically-developed COVID-19 drug, Xocova, after emergency approval by the health ministry in late November. The oral medicine by Shionogi & Co is designed for low-risk symptoms. In clinical trials, it is safe and is estimated to be effective for people aged 12 and older.

South Korea's seven-day cases average is 58,948 but it reached 404,626 on March 19, when the daily record was 621,328 on March 17. The nation reported 62,608 cases Saturday.


South Korea's fatalities Sunday were 40.

The nation's government will decide whether to lift the indoor mask mandate by the end of this month, Interior Minister Lee Sang-min said last week. It's the last remaining restriction there.

Cases also have been spiking in France with 105,516 Tuesday, the most since 124,009 July 26, and 61,482 Saturday, the third most in the world behind Japan for confirmed cases with South Korea second.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified 9.3% of counties, districts and territories with a "high" category transmission level, compared with 35.1% "medium" and 55.5% "low." In "high" locations, masks are urged indoors mainly in scattered places in the Plains and Rockies.

The CDC reported 458,986 cases in the past week, the most since 472,365 Sept. 14. Eight weeks ago it was 261,176, the lowest since 227,179 April 13. The record was 5,603,575 Jan. 19. And the deaths average was 1,780, the lowest since 1,679 Jul 7 and the record 23,372 Jan. 13, 2021.

And the deaths average was 2,981, the most since 3,014 Oct. 5, and one week after 1,844, the lowest since 1,679 July 7 and the record 23,366 Jan. 13, 2021.


The predominant Omicron subvariant BQ.1.1 represented 36.8% of the total cases in the week ending Saturday with BQ,1 at 31.1% and BA.5, which dominated since the early summer, dropped to 11.5%. Omicron overall totals 100%.

In its weekly report Thursday, the CDC said the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate was 91.6% with completed primary service at 78.6% and updated booster doses 15.5%. The full population rates are 80.6% for one shot, 68.9% for completed primary and 13.5% updated booster 5 and older.

The White House urged older Americans to get their bivalent COVID-19 shots. Their rate is 34.2%.

"These moments seem even more precious now knowing what it's like to lose them to a deadly disease that kept us apart," first lady Jill Biden said Friday in Washington, D.C. at a town hall alongside Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and White House COVID Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.

"Which is why the most important thing you can do to prepare for your holidays. is to get your updated COVID vaccine. And if you get it now, you'll be protected in time for winter holiday gatherings."


The 81-year-old Fauci, who is leaving his post as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of the year, said: "Don't wait. If you wait, you put yourself at risk."

The U.S. reported Sunday 38,340 were hospitalized from 35,632 a week ago, which is far below the record 160,113 (20.6%) on Jan. 20, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Since the start of the pandemic, total new admissions were 5,605,899 with a 13.8% rise in the seven-day average.

Total hospitalizations were 559,912 at 79.13% capacity, close to 79.49% last week.

Seasonal influenza activity is high and continues to increase across the country.

The CDC estimates so far this season, there have been at least 13 million illnesses, 120,00 hospitalizations and 7,300 deaths from flu. The deaths include at least 21 children, including seven in the past week.

Along with respiratory syncytial virus, the United States is dealing with a "tripledemic."

"This year's flu season is off to a rough start," Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, board chairwoman of the American Medical Association, said at a CDC press briefing last week. "Flu is here. It started early, and with Covid and RSV also circulating, it's a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season."


In the past week there was 360 antigen detections and 5,893 PCR, the CDC reported.

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