World’s weekly COVID-19 cases down 17%; Japan averages 200,000 daily

Aug. 14 (UPI) — The COVID-19 situation continues to ease worldwide with 15% weekly decline in cases and 12% drop in deaths though Japan leads all nations with an average of 200,000 cases daily and near-record deaths.

Also, the situation is worsening in South Korea, another Asian country, with the second-most weekly infections and more than half as many additional deaths from seven days ago.

On Sunday, Japan announced 178,356 infections, 11 days after the record 247,830, for a total of 15,674,150 in 11th place. Deaths were 153, one day after 256, the most since a record 272 Feb, 23, for a total of 35,001 in 30th.

In the past week, Japan added a world-high 1,443,560 infections, which was a 3% gain, two weeks after a 54% rise.

Though BA.5 Omicron subvariant spreads worldwide, infections dropped to 5,355,216 with a daily average of 765,031 and passing 1 million the last time on April 13, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. On Jan. 21, the daily record was set at 3,839,996. The total is 594,993,209, including 586,884 Saturday when Japan added 183,609.

Fatalities in the past week were down to 14,909. That daily average is 2,130 with the recent low 1,294 on June 21, the lowest since 1,072 on March 21, 2020, 10 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The total is 6,454,177, including 2,252 Saturday. It was previously under 1,000 on June 19 with 939.

Some nations do not report data on weekends. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t report data on Saturdays and Sundays.

Other case increases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were South Korea 25% with a second-high 852,734 and No. 7 Russia 56% with 160,580.

The United States reported the third most cases, 599,370 but a 27% drop, No. 4 Germany 307,029 with an 18% decline, No. 5 Italy 193,305 with a 32% decrease, No. 6 Australia 164,823 with a 31% drop, No. 8 France 160,054 and a 29% decrease, No. 9 Brazil 153,718 and 20% fewer, and No. 10 Taiwan 150,931 with 0.8% gain.

Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with big increases in the past week: No. 3 Japan 1,415 with a 52% increase, Russia 374 with a 24% rise, South Korea 330 with 58% jump, Philippines 203 with a 190% hike, Indonesia 126 with a 27% boost, Poland 113 at 26% above, Guatemala 10 with 25% more.

The United States reported the most deaths, 2,438 but a 27% drop. Brazil was second with 1,468 and a 1% decline, Italy fourth with 920 and a 13% decrease, Germany fifth with 840 and a 5% drop, Britain sixth with 592 and a 45% drop, Australia seventh 539 and 11% more, Spain eighth with 512 and 17% boost.

Every continent reported a weekly case decrease, led by Oceania with 30% for a cumulative 11,835,636. North America dropped 28% for 112,428,109, with Africa also 28% for 12,573,376, Europe 24% for a world-high 218,594,708, South America 22% for 62,983,586, Asia 3% for 176,577,073.

Asia reported the only deaths increase with 18% for 1,455,384. Decreases were Africa 40% for 257,117, North America 25% for 1,513,137, Europe 19% for a world-high 1,889,725, South America 9% for 1,320,685, Oceania 6% for 18,114.

The U.S. leads with 1,062,333 fatalities and 94,678,953 infections, according to Worldometers.info. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 909,387 on Jan. 13. Brazil is second in deaths at 681,480, including 163 Saturday and fourth in cases at 34,164,891, including 16,760 Saturday. India is second in cases at 44,253,464, including 14,092 Sunday and third in deaths at 527,037, including 41 Sunday.

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

Russia is fourth in deaths at 383,125, including 54 Sunday with 34 15 days ago, tied for the least since April 16, 2020.

In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 328,668 including 72 Saturday, Peru sixth with 214,934 and 44 Saturday, Britain seventh with 186,087 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 174,060 including 78 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 157,208 including 10 Sunday and France 10th with 153,064 with no change Saturday.

In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 34,213,094 including 21,175 Saturday, Germany is fifth with 31,535,343, Britain sixth with 23,420,826, Italy seventh with 21,499,531 including 19,455 Sunday, South Korea eighth with 21,236,355 including 124,515 Sunday, Russia ninth with 18,852,976 including 28,694 Sunday, Turkey 10th with 16,295,817.

South Korea’s 149,819 cases Tuesday were the most since 164,481 April 10 with the record 621,328 March 17.

North Korea has reported no cases since July 29 after the first inspections were reported in May and The death toll is 74.

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “declared victory” over the outbreak at a national meeting Wednesday. He said the nation had “eradicated” the virus despite a weak health system and lack of vaccines.

“The long-suffered quarantine war is finally over and today, we are able to solemnly declare victory,” Kim Jong Un told a crowd of thousands gathered in Pyongyang.

“The death toll of just 74 people in this period [since late April] is extremely low and can be considered the greatest miracle in the world health community.”

His sister, Kim Yo Jong, said in a speech also Wednesday at a national meeting that she believes South Koreans intentionally spread the virus to her nation in April,

Outside health experts have not been able to authenticate the data.

In all, more than 12.4 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 3.4 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 2.1 billion among the 1.4 billion population and a 74.1% rate.

Broken down by world regions, Asia-Pacific, Latin American and U.S.-Canada have administered at least one dose to 80% of the population, with Europe at 69%, Middle East 57% and Africa at 26%, according to The New York Times tracking. The percentages didn’t change from the past three weeks.

Japan, which has an 82.6% one-shot vaccination rate among all residents, is in the midst of a seventh wave.

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 until the surge was 105,816 on Feb. 6.

Japan, unlike other nations, has kept strict travel limits and isolation guidelines.

Last month Japan shortened the isolation for close contact to five days from seven. Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped isolation guidelines when exposed to someone with social distancing scrapped.

And only 20,000 people are allowed into the country each day with proof of negative test with the previous 72 hours.

“A lot of people travel abroad during the summer,” a Japanese man in his 50s who attempted to return from Britain for work, told Nikkei Asia. “I think the number of people stranded because they are having trouble returning to Japan will skyrocket.”

He found out he was positive for the virus before he was due to return home. Despite no symptoms, did not test negative for almost 10 days.

The fatality rate of those aged 60 and older with coronavirus was 1.99% — three to four times as high as seasonal flu. For those younger than 60, the rate is 0.01%.

“We’ve gone beyond our limits in admitting patients,” said the vice president of a hospital in the Chubu region around Nagoya that handles coronavirus cases. “Having more medical institutions involved, including through telemedicine, would lighten the load more.”

Despite the rising numbers, Japan has low cases and deaths rates.

Japan has 279 deaths per million, which is 148th in the nation, with the world at 828 and Peru No. 1 at 6,332.

In cases, roughly 10% of the population has been infected with 122,914 per million in 106th place with the world 76,328 and Portugal the highest among large countries at 530,535. Japan’s population is 125 million.

The BA.5 Omicron strain has become the most dominant in the world, accounting for 88.8% of cases in the United States, according to the CDC projections through Saturday. The strain was first tracked in late April. Virtually all of the cases are linked to the Omicron variant.

The CDC has classified 39.6% of counties, districts and territories with a “high” category level, compared with 41.7% last week, with 40,7% “medium” and 19.8% “low.” In “high” locations, masks are urged indoors.

New hospitalizations in the U.S. from July 27 to Tuesday were 6,003, which is a 3.6% weekly drop. A total of 5,121,322 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception.

On Thursday, the CDC reported the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate hit 90% with full vaccination at 77.2% and one booster at 51.4%. The full population rates are 78.9% for one shot, 67.3% for two, 48.3% for three, 32.7% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster.

“That means a third of the people in the country are vaccinated and properly boosted,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, told Fox News on Tuesday. How could that possibly be when you have a disease that’s killed one million Americans and you have a hesitancy to use a life-saving intervention which is a vaccine and a booster? It seems like – what world are we living in?”

The reasons?

“You have people who don’t want to get vaccinated for any of a variety of reasons, ranging from pure anti-vax to just because we’re telling them to get vaccinated,” Fauci said.

COVID-19 treatments, including Paxlovid, are predicted to be effective to mitigate the illness. It is free in the United States.

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 Sunday, China reported 684 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China. The total for Saturday was 2,467 nationwide, the most since May.

Shanghai was locked down because of the recent outbreak. Two months earlier all schools, including nurseries, were closed but they will reopen on Sept. 1. All teachers and students will be required to take nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus every day, the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission announced Sunday.

Some high school and middle school returned to classrooms in June with the rest confined to home study for the remainder of the semester.

Shanghai has been trending down with five new local cases, all asymptomatic, for Saturday, while 2,467 domestically transmitted cases were reported nationwide, the most since May.