Statues wear face masks at a shopping district in Beijing, China, on Friday. China continues its travel restrictions and lockdowns a week ahead of the Communist Party congress. Authorities have banned people from leaving Xinjiang while the government. Photo by Mark R. Crinstino/EPA-EFE
Oct. 9 (UPI) — Coronavirus cases are surging in some European nations, including Germany, Austria, Italy and France at least 24% each in the past week, though world infections are down 7% and deaths 10% to among lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Also, Mainland China, where the virus originated, has had a rise in cases, one week before the Communist Party congress in Beijing. Xinjiang, which is 7,500 miles west of the capital, is in a near lockdown, including people unable to depart the region.
Europe was the only continent to post a rise in cases over seven days, 2%, though deaths dropped 0.3%.
Cases’ moving average was at 421,444, which is the least since 397,470 July 5, 2021. In one week they declined to 2,950,804 with the total 6,560,801.
The seven-day moving average for deaths was down to 1,221, the fewest since 1,075 March 21, 2020, 10 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, according to Worldometers.info. In one week deaths declined to 8,551 drop, with the cumulative 6,550,670 so far Sunday.
Daily deaths worldwide dropped to 746 Saturday, the fewest since the start of the pandemic, after 961 last Sunday. It was 972 on June 19, the last time under 1,000.
Cases were 293,434 Saturday, the lowest number since 281,090 on June 21, 2021. 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 with plans to go to weekly updates on Oct. 20.
The records were 3,846,048 cases on Jan. 21, during the height of the Omicron subvariant, and 16,849 deaths on Jan. 21, 2021, when the Delta subvariant was at its peak.
Few big countries reported increases in both categories in the past week, mainly in Europe.
Germany posted the most weekly cases, 562,403, which is a 30% rise, one week after a 60% gain, and the fifth-most deaths at 471, but a 22% decline.
France had the second-most cases, 385,820, which rose 24%. In deaths, the United States was No. 1 at 2,023, which decreased 22%, and around 1,300 more than second-place Russia at 725, a 2% rise.
In the past week, Asia reported 28.9% of the world’s cases and it dropped 13% for a cumulative 190,892,978, according to Worldometers.info. The continent has 59% percent of the world’s population.
Europe’s cases rose to a cumulative world-high 229,548,006. Decreasing were North America 28% for 116,830,372, Africa 26% for 12,653,607, Oceania 24% for 12441,875, South America 15% for 64,195,184,
South America is the sole one to gain in deaths, 14% for 1,330,812. Dropping were Oceania 49% for 12,154, North America 21% for 1,543,639, Asia 15% for 1,482,250, Africa 5% for 257,672, Europe with a world-high 1,925,328.
The United States leads with 1,087,873 fatalities and 98,549,246 infections. The nation also holds the world record for daily cases at 906,886 on Jan. 7. Brazil is second in deaths at 686,895, including 46 Saturday and fourth in cases at 34,762,860, including 5,603 Saturday.
India is second in cases at 44,612,013, including 2,756 Sunday and third in deaths at 528,799, including 21 Sunday, with single deaths 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 Taiwan 10% at No. 3 322,572, Italy 30% at No. 4 280,947, Austria 24% at No. 9 96,654, Singapore 69% at No. 12 36,985,
Also in the top 10 for most cases but dropping: United States 28% at No. 6 227,883, Japan 32% at 215,243, Russia 39% at No. 7 165,571, South Korea 22% at No. 8 157,121, Britain 11% at No. 10 44,585.
Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with increases in the past week: Brazil 27% at No. 3 591, Taiwan 19% at No. 7 364, Italy 32% at No. 8 364, France 29% at No. 9 293, Spain 56% at No. 10 268, Philippines 12% at No. 11 249, Poland 11% at No. 13 158, Peru 42% at No. 15 149, Czechia 18% at No. 19 104.
Also in the top 10 for most deaths but decreasing: Japan 19% at No. 4 510 and Britain 9% at No. 6 409.
In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 330,202 and no weekend data, Peru sixth with 216,727 and 27 Saturday, Britain seventh with 190,888 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 177,519 including 41 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 158,205 including seven Sunday and France 10th with 155,422 with no change on the weekend.
In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 35,823,627 including 57,270 Saturday, Germany is fifth with 33,948,632, Britain seventh with 23,735,273, Italy eighth with 22,815,736 including 34,443 Sunday, Japan ninth with 21,567,543 including 22,796 Sunday, Russia 10th with 21,203,332 including 30,085 Sunday.
European nations are experiencing case surges upon the arrival of cooler weather.
Despite a dramatic fall in testing, WHO data released Wednesday showed that cases in the European Union reached 1.5 million last week, up 8% from the previous week.
Hospitalizations also have spiked, including nearly 32% week in Italy with intensive care admissions up 21%, according to data compiled by independent scientific foundation Gimbe.
In Britain, which is not part of the European Union, they rose 45% in one week.
“There must be some complacency in that life seems to have gone back to normal – at least with regards Covid and people now have other financial and war-related worries,” said Adam Finn, chairman of an expert group advising the WHO on vaccine preventable diseases in Europe, told CNN.
And Penny Ward, visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London, also told CNN: “Quite a high proportion of the population might have also had a Covid episode in recent months.”
British officials last week warned that renewed circulation of flu and a resurgence in Covid-19 further strain the National Health Service.
Experts warn this situation could hit the United States.
“In the past, what’s happened in Europe often has been a harbinger for what’s about to happen in the United States,” says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NPR. “So I think the bottom line message for us in this country is: We have to be prepared for what they are beginning to see in Europe.”
But the situation may be different in Europe than the United States because of different levels of immunity and usceptibility to new subvariants they’ve not yet been exposed to.
“If it is mostly just behavioral changes and climate, we might be able to avoid similar upticks if there is broad uptake of the bivalent vaccine,” Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina who helps run the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, told NPR. “If it is immune escape across several variants with convergent evolution, the outlook for the U.S. may be more concerning.”
Without new restrictions in place, including social distancing and masks, people should stay at home if unwell, Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, said in a report by The Guardian.
These numbers are surging despite Omicron variant-adapted vaccines available since September for elderly and compromised immune system.
Since Sept. 5, about 40 million vaccine doses produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been delivered to member states, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. But only between 1 million and 1.4 million were administered in the past month.
The European Union one-shot vaccination rate for the entire population is 76.1% with Britain at 69.6%,according to Bloomberg tracking.
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. 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.
Japan, which has an 82.8% one-shot vaccination rate among all residents, plans to drop a ban on individual tourist visits and remove a 50,000 cap on daily arrivals. Those were the strongest restrictions among the Group of Seven nations.
Japan has 362 deaths per million, which is 145th in the nation, with the world at 841.7 and Peru No. 1 at 6,372. In cases, Japan’s rate is 169,851 per million in 196th place with the world 80,382 and Austria the highest among large countries at 575,713 with, France 546,089, Portugal 543,080 and Denmark 534,108. Japan’s population is 125 million.
Japan’s seven-day moving case average is 26,785, the fewest since July with the record 255,534 seventh weeks ago.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech last week it is “in principle unnecessary to wear masks outdoors.” Indoors is only encouraged.
South Korea’s situation, like Japan, is much better than a few months. Cases are at three-month lows with a seven-day moving average of 22,446. In late June it was around 7,000. The daily record was 621,328 on March 17.
Indoor masks remain required.
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 503 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.
In all, China reported 1,748 cases Sunday, more than triple the figure from the previous week.
“Over the National Day Golden Week holiday, China’s overall Covid situation evidently deteriorated,” Ting Lu, Nomura’s chief China economist, wrote in a note.
In Beijing, the capita has tightened interprovincial travel to prevent residents from returning from their holidays.
Passengers traveling around China during this year’s festival week was about 60% below that in 2019.
Zhangjiakou, a city in northwest China with around 4.6 million, hasn’t reinstituted a citywide lockdown. But Zhang Ke, a Beijing resident who is not allowed to return home because he was near an outbreak, told the Financial Times: “95% of the residential compounds are closed. Shopping malls and supermarkets are closed. No one is on the streets.”
Gulnazar, an Ili resident, whom The Washington Post is only identifying by one name because of security concerns, said: “We’ve been locked up in our home for more than 40 days. We are short of everything, especially food,” said Gulnazar, an Ili resident, whom The Washington Post is only identifying by one name because of security concerns. “There are so many difficulties, I feel like crying just by mentioning them.”
The nation’s top leaders convene in Beijing on Oct. 16.
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 three deaths and 4,890 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 81.3% of cases in the United States, according to the CDC projections through Sept. 30. The CDC didn’t give a report update Saturday. The strain was first tracked in late April.
The CDC has classified 3.3% of counties, districts and territories with a “high” category level, compared with 22.9% “medium” and 73.7% “low.” In “high” locations, masks are urged indoors.
The seven-day moving average for cases Thursday was 41,855, the lowest since 41,360 April 21, according to the CDC. And the deaths average Thursday fell to 345 two days after 334, the lowest since 318 on June 22.
New weekly hospitalizations in the United States for one week the previous Tuesday were 3,773, which is a 7.4% weekly drop. A total of 5,353,767 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception with a population of 332 million. The U.S. total reported Sunday was 25,759, which is 3.64% 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 90.6% with completed primary service at 77.8% and one booster at 52.1%. The full population rates are 79.7% for one shot, 68% for two, 48.9% for three, 37.9% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster.
The CDC says 5.3% of eligible people older than 12, around 11.5 million, have received the updated booster that targets Omicron after the rollout four weeks ago. Last week alone it was 3.9 milion.