Japan’s cases surge to record levels; world infections down 2% in week

Aug. 22 (UPI) — Two days before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympics, coronavirus cases are surging in Japan at record levels, joining hotspots in the United States and Indonesia.

On Sunday, Japan reported 22,302 cases after four days topping 25,000 for the first time, including a record 25,492 Saturday. The Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed 4,392 new infections after topping 5,000 for the first time last week.

In the past week, cases increased 34% with the current total 1,306,114, according to Worldometers.info tracking. Deaths also grew 41% but the numbers comparatively have been much lower than elsewhere in the world, including 24 Sunday for a total of 15,651. Daily fatalities rarely have topped 100 since the pandemic.

Until late July, cases hadn’t gone above 10,000 in one day. Before then, the record was 7,855 on Jan. 9.

That was before the Summer Olympics, which began July 23 and ended two weeks ago. A total of 546 positive cases linked to the Olympics, including the first one reported Thursday in the Olympic Village ahead of the Paralympics.

Worldwide, weekly totals slightly decreased: 0.3% deaths and 2% in cases. In the previous week, the changes were an increase of 0.6% in cases and a decrease of 0.1% in deaths.

So far Sunday, there have been 4,443,080 deaths and 212,519,053 cases.

The United States, which is in the midst of a fourth wave of COVID-19, has reported a world-leading 628,438 deaths and 37,698,283 cases, according to Johns Hopkins tracking.

Brazil is second in fatalities with 574,243 and India third with 434,367. India is second in cases at 32,424,234 ahead of Brazil with 20,556,487.

Despite the surge, Japan’s cases percentage is lower than elsewhere.

Japan has 10,136 infections per million compared with the world at 27,243, the United States at 115,601, Britain at 94,608 and Indonesia at 14,376. For fatalities, Japan is at 124 per million compared with the world at 569.8, the United States at 1,935, Britain at 1,927, Indonesia at 457.

But Japan is lagging in vaccinations with 51.7% of the population getting at least one dose, according to tracking by Bloomberg.

The United States has administered at least one dose to 60.5% of its total population with Brazil at 59.4%. India’s one-shot rate is 32.6%. China doesn’t list the one-dose rate but for the fully vaccinated it is 55.5% in a nation of a world-high 1.5 billion people.

Worldwide, vaccinations grew by 250 million in one week to 4.93 billion.

Europe has administered 95 doses per 100 people, followed by North America at 91, South America at 75, Asia at 69, Oceania at 48 and Africa at 6.6, according to tracking by The New York Times.

Much of Japan remains in a state of emergency through Sept. 12. And some other locations in the past week joined places that include Tokyo, Osaka and Okinawa.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will not lift the state of emergency until “the provision of medical care is secured.” It began in July before the Olympics.

Department stores and shopping malls are being called on to limit the number of customers allowed in at the same time. Restaurants and bars are also barred from serving alcohol or offering karaoke and those not serving them are asked to close by 8 p.m.

Suga wants commuters cut by 70% with businesses allowing people to work remotely.

On Friday, the National Governors’ Association urged the central government to consider imposing a lockdown because current measures have been “ineffective.”

In Asia, cases have reached a world-high 67,812,444 and deaths are 997,858, which is third behind Europe and South American but slightly ahead of North America. The one-week decreases were 2% in fatalities and 5% in infections.

In India, deaths dropped 6% and cases were down 10%.

Sunday’s totals were 403 deaths, compared with a record 4,529, and 30,948 cases and a record 414,188.

The highly contagious Delta variant was first detected in India last October and has become the dominant strain worldwide.

Empowered Group 1, which is tasked with the emergency strategy, predicts 23 hospitalizations for every 100 positive cases in a future surge.

Less than two weeks ago, Indonesia moved into the top 10 for most deaths. The Asian nation has grown to 126,372 deaths, including 1,030 Sunday. Indonesia has recorded the most deaths each day in the past week with the record 2,069 on July 27.

Its cases ranked 13th at 3,979,456, including 12,408 Sunday. The record was 51,957 on July 15.

In one week, infections are down 34% and fatalities 16%. But Indonesia recorded the most deaths in the past week at 10,492, ahead of Brazil in second with 5,748.

Indonesia’s vaccination rate is 21.2% for one dose.

Also in the top 20 for most deaths is Iran in 13th with 102,038, rising to a record 684 Sunday with an 10% weekly gain. And cases dropped 6% in the past week, but the 251,610 total was second in the world behind the United States with 957,732. The nation reported 36,419 cases Sunday with the record 55,228 Tuesday.

The pandemic began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation has reported only a few deaths in the past 12 months and stands in 72nd at 4,636 behind Armenia with 4,752. China added 32 cases Sunday and had administered more than 1.9 billion doses, the most in the world and dwarfing India with more than 581 million and the United States with more than 360 million, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

South Korea’s rate is 49.3% of its population. The nation has 2,215 deaths, including 13 more Sunday, and a rise of 1,627 cases after a record 2,219 Aug. 11.

Restrictions were set to expire on Sunday but they have been extended another two weeks.

Turkey is seventh in the world for cases at 6,215,663, including 18,622 Sunday, and 18th in deaths at 54,533, including 206 most recently.

Coronavirus continues to surge in Thailand with a 31% increase in deaths with 233 more Sunday though cases dropped 6% and were 19,014 most recently.

Israel, which is considered part of Asia, has a death toll of 6,839 with 55 reported Sunday and 3,885 cases. The nation has vaccinated 65% of its population with at least one dose, including nearly 80% of adults.

Despite the good vaccination rate, Israel has one of the world’s highest infection rates: 105,966 per million people, slightly less than the United States.

Fearful the vaccines doses are wearing off, Israel has begun offering boosters to older and vulnerable people.

In the European Union, 63.4% of the population has been given at least one dose, including 76.2% in Spain, 72.6% in France, 68.5% in Italy, 64% in Germany, 50.0% in Poland, 28.5% in Russia and 19.4% in Ukraine. Britain, which is no longer a member of the EU, has a 71.2% rate.

Europe has three nations in the top 10. Russia is sixth with 176,044, Britain seventh with 131,640, Italy eighth with 128,751, France is 11th with 113,311, Germany 14th with 92,478, Spain 15th with 83,136, Poland 17th with 75,316 and Ukraine 19th with 53,457.

Europe’s deaths grew by 9% for a current total of 1,159,762 and cases rose 1% at 54,199,655.

In Britain, coronavirus is again spiking a few months after an earlier surge diminished. In one week, deaths rose 9% with 49 reported Sunday and cases grew 14%, including 32,253 most recently. Britain’s records are 1,823 deaths and 67,803 cases, both in January.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Chris Smith warns of complacency.

During BBC’s Breakfast, Smith said: “We all agree that [the pandemic is not over] until it is over in every corner of the world, because otherwise it will just come roaring back,” he said. “Don’t forget we think that this started with a handful of cases in one city, in one corner of one country… and it then eclipsed the entire world.

“But one must not take one’s eye off the ball here because it would be very easy to unstitch all of the good work we’ve done so far if it turns out with time we do lose immunity because the vaccines wane in their effectiveness.”

Coronavirus is still surging in Russia, which reported 762 deaths Sunday, eight days after a record 819. Cases were 20,564 compared with the record 29,935 in December.

Also most recently: Italy 23, France 44, Germany five, Ukraine 25 and Poland none. Spain doesn’t release data on the weekend.

The European Union launched the vaccine certificate, which allows for free movement of travelers between its countries though each nation can implement restrictions.

U.S. and European travelers who have been fully vaccinated can visit England without needing to quarantine. But a travel ban remains going into the U.S. from Europe.

The United States is continuing travel restrictions to Europe.

The United States’ non-essential travel ban with Canada and Mexico was extended one month to Sept. 21. It began one year ago in March. Earlier, Canada announced it was reopening to vaccinated Americans.

“In coordination with public health and medical experts, DHS continues working closely with its partners across the United States and internationally to determine how to safely and sustainably resume normal travel,” the department tweeted.

In North America, deaths rose 14% and cases dropped 5%, fueled by spikes in the United States with a 19% rise in deaths and 3% in cases. On Saturday, the United States added 460 deaths and 59,521 cases though a majority of states don’t report data on the weekend.

The continent’s totals are 973,869 deaths and 46,220,289 cases.

Mexico’s deaths are up 21%, with 847 reported Sunday and fourth in the world at 252,080. Deaths are way down in Mexico from a one-day record of 1,803. The nation’s cases are down 2%, ranking 15th in cases at 3,197,108 with 21,897 most recently and a record 28,953 Wednesday.

Canada’s cases increased 27% in one week and deaths were up 184% but it was only 91. Canada’s deaths record is 257 on Dec. 29 with a total of 26,792 in 26th, including two on Sunday. Cases reported were 1,505, down from the record of 11,383 on Jan. 3, and a total of 1,468,813.

Canada’s one-shot vaccination rate has risen to 72.9%. Mexico’s vaccination rate is 43.8%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.

Canada will mandate that all federal employees be fully vaccinated by the end of October to “set an example” for other employers and Canadians.

British Airways has suspended flights from Britain to Cancun until Sept. 30. The British government included Mexico in its “red list” of international travelers.

Starting in the fall, all passengers and workers on commercial air flights in Canada have to prove they’ve been vaccinated.

In South America, five nations are in the top 20 for most deaths. Besides Brazil, Peru is fifth with 197,870, Colombia 10th with 124,216, Argentina 12th with 110,352, and Chile 20th with 36,650.

Overall, South America has 1,120,497 deaths, with a decrease of 14% in one week, and 36,603,163 cases, with a drop of 6% over seven days.

Brazil’s fatalities decreased 7% with 585 Saturday and 331 Sunday and cases were down 7% with 28,388 Saturday and 14,404 most recently. The nation set a cases record of 114,139 cases in June and 4,211 fatalities in January.

The Lambda variant was first detected in Peru in August 2020.

Chile has the highest vaccination rate on the continent at 74.8% with Argentina 60.4%, Colombia at 42.0% and Peru 28.5%.

On Saturday, Colombia reported 98 deaths, Argentina added 147, Peru gained 66 and Chile 39.

On Sunday, Colombia gained 95, Argentina 135, Peru 61 and Chile 45.

“Latin America has always been a champion for vaccination and people trust vaccines,” Patricia García, a former Peruvian health minister and epidemiologist, told The Wall Street Journal. “If we are able to get enough supply of the vaccines, we can catch up.”

Africa is trailing way behind other continents.

South Africa has vaccinated just 13.6% of its population with at least one shot.

Deaths are down 2% and cases up 18% in South Africa in one week. South Africa is in 16th place with 79,421 deaths, including 170 Sunday. And cases rose 10,748.

An actuary suggests 80% of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus. Instead of the rate of 44,732 per million population.

“If we know the mortality rate of Covid, we can deduce the likely infection level,” Emile Stipp, the actuary at Discovery Health, wrote in an email to Bloomberg News.

South Africa’s mortality rate is 3%.

In Africa, the numbers are down in one week: 13% deaths and 5% cases.

Africa’s totals are 189,446 deaths and 7,567,564 cases.

Tunisia has the second most deaths with 22,537, ahead of Egypt with 16,671.

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,902 deaths with an increase of 36%, or 159 in one week, and cases are 145,457, up 16,111 to 34%.

New Zealand’s deaths remain at 26 with the last one reported on Feb. 16 and Australia’s toll increased to 981, with three reported Sunday and 25 in a week.

New Zealand reported 24 cases Sunday and Australia was up 909, one day after a record 890 with most in New South Wales and Victoria.

Australia has vaccinated 41.5% of its population and New Zealand is at 34.1%.

“The Delta strain is like nothing Australia has seen before,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a news conference Sunday. “Even in very strict and harsh lockdowns, the virus is spreading — and that is a fact. So what we need to do is to protect ourselves and our loved ones by staying at home, and also by getting vaccinated.”

New South Wales extended its lockdown until the end of September, including a nightly curfew of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in parts of Sydney.

In Sydney on Saturday, hundreds of unmasked protesters demonstrated against lockdowns. Six officers were hospitalized in the protests.

And in the neighboring state of Victoria, 61 cases were reported Saturday, prompting authorities to extend lockdown measures from the capital, Melbourne, to the entire state. Only allowed are essential activities.

The outbreak is still surging in Fiji with 438 total deaths, a rise of 65 in the past seven days, and four by May 3. Deaths increased by five Sunday. Only six deaths were reported by July 19. Cases have climbed from 121 on May 3 to 403,597, including 303 most recently. Fiji has 903,457 residents.

Its vaccination rate is 59.6%.

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