People in traditional clothing participate in the costume parade during the 187th edition of the traditional Oktoberfest beer and amusement festival in Munich, Germany, on Sunday. The event was canceled for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE
Sept. 18 (BP) — COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide remain at the lowest levels since June with an 11% weekly drop in infections to around 475,000 daily and a 10% decline in fatalities to about 1,550 each day — about one-tenth of the record highs set last year.
Few countries reported increases in both categories in the past week, including Russia, Taiwan, Germany with Greece announcing a huge 550% rise in deaths.
In Germany, despite weekly increases — 12% cases and 18% deaths — Munich conducted the first Oktoberfest since the pandemic. Other cancellations include World Wars I and II and twice due to cholera outbreaks. Over 2.5 weeks, more than 6 million people at Munich’s festival grounds are expected to consume some 2 million gallons of beer.
Bavarian governor Markus Soeder tapped the first beer barrel Saturday in the Schottenhamel Festival Hall tent, traditionally the first place where it’s done.
Daily deaths worldwide dropped to 845 Saturday, the lowest since 677 on March 16, 2020 and the first time under 1,000 since 962 on June 19, according to Wordometers.info. Cases were 349,563, the lowest since 281,040 on June 21, 2021. Cases fell under 1,000 last Sunday before updates were made by Worldometers.info.
The records were 3,847,128 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.
In the past week, 3,325,074 cases and 10,861 deaths were reported worldwide.
The total number of cases was 617,106,110 and deaths were 6,530,613 so far Sunday.
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.
Some of the most recent hotspots — Japan and South Korea — are subsiding.
On Sunday, Japan added 64,044 infections, an 11% decline from the previous week, for a total of 20,712,002 in ninth worldwide with the record 255,534 four weeks ago. In the past week, Japan led the world with 584,060.
Also, Japan gained 72 deaths for a total of 43,782 in 25th globally, 15 days after a record 291. Its 1,220 deaths were in second but a 31% decrease.
South Korea posted the second-most weekly cases 383,029, a 23% decrease, for a total of 23,569,192, but only 34,764 Sunday, in sixth place, passing Britain. The nation added 46 deaths for a cumulative 27,828 in 37th, including a 15% weekly drop at 353, ninth-most worldwide.
Though the BA.5 Omicron subvariant is still spreading worldwide, infections dropped to a seven-day moving average of 451,374, the lowest figure since 431,828 Oct. 27 and passing 1 million the last time on July 31, according to tracking by Worldometers.info.
Fatalities in the past week were down to 11,155. That seven-day daily average is 1,594 with the recent low of 1,303 on June 21, the fewest since 1,073 on March 21, 2020, 10 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
The WHO says the world is nearing an endemic.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic — we are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing last week. “A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view, she runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we.
“We can see the finish line, we’re in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.”
In the past week, Asia reported 47% of the world’s cases though it dropped 16% for a cumulative 187,946,482, according to Worldometers.info. The continent has 59% percent of the world’s population.
Europe was the only continent to increase in cases, 8%, for a cumulative world-high 224,624,976. Decreasing were North America 30% for 115,658,914, Oceania 26% for 12,295,640, South America 24% for 63,944,458, Africa 23% for 12,634,899,
Europe also was the sole one to gain in deaths, 13%, for a world-high 1,915,223. Decreasing were Africa 39% for 257,533, Asia 23% for 1,475,998, Oceania 19% for 20,428, North America 18% for 1,533,196, South America 13% for 1,328,220.
The United States leads with 1,078,656 fatalities and 97,495,561 infections. The nation also holds the world record for daily cases at 906,088 on Jan. 6. Brazil is second in deaths at 685,410, including 60 Saturday and fourth in cases at 34,627,090, including 5,609 Saturday. India is second in cases at 44,534,188, including 5,622 Sunday and third in deaths at 528,337, including 35 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.
Big case increases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were Russia 11% with No. 3 368,563, Taiwan 16% with No. 5 280,864, Germany 12% with No. 6 228,105, France 57% with 191,537, Austria 16% with 43,870, Poland 28% with 32,020.
Also in the top 10 for most cases, United States 318,592 with a 29% decrease, No. 8 Italy 113,218 with 2% more, No. 9 Hong Kong 57,232 with a 20% lower, No. 10 Brazil 54,610 with 4% loss.
Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with big increases in the past week: Greece 550% with No. 3 955, Germany 18% with No. 5 634, Spain 68% with No. 6 558, Canada 20% with No. 10 337, Taiwan 12% with 254, India 18% with 187.
Also in the top 10 for most deaths, No. 1 United States 1,932 but a 22% drop, No. 4 Russia 682 with 7% more, No. 7 Brazil 504 with 2% 2% rise, No. 8 Italy 371 with 1% fewer.
Russia is fourth overall in deaths at 386,045, including 105 Sunday after 107 Saturday and 110 Friday, the last time above three digits since May 14 with 107.
In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 329,896 including 28 Friday, Peru sixth with 216,287 and 23 Saturday, Britain seventh with 189,484 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 176,578 including 32 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 157,770 including eight Sunday and France 10th with 154,672 with no change Saturday.
In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 34,893,247 including 33,162 Saturday, Germany is fifth with 32,680,355, Britain seventh with 23,585,305, Italy eighth with 22,161,016 including 12,081 Sunday, Russia 10th with 20,439,095 including 56,751 Sunday.
In all, more than 12.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, a gain of 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 week.
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.
Japan next month plans to drop a ban on individual tourist visits and remove a 50,000 cap on daily arrivals, Nikkei reported. Those were the strongest restrictions among the Group of Seven nations.
Last November, Japan imposed a near-full ban on new entries by foreigners in November. In March, supervised entry for students and business travelers was allowed, then guided group travel for tourists in June.
On Sept. 7, Japan waived the requirement for travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of departing for Japan. The daily cap was raised to 20,000.
“It’s important for us to work to strengthen Japan’s earning power, taking advantage of the current yen weakness,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday during a meeting of the government’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy.
Japan has 348 deaths per million, which is 146th in the nation, with the world at 837.8 and Peru No. 1 at 6,421.
In cases, Japan’s rate is 164,318 per million in 196th place with the world 79,167 and Austria the highest among large countries at 55,127 with Portugal 538,114, France 532,035 and Denmark 531,457. Japan’s population is 125 million.
South Korea’s cases are at two-month lows with the Chuseok holiday, or the three-day Korean fall harvest celebration ending Monday when 36,938 cases were reported. It was the first holiday weekend without social distancing restrictions during the pandemic.
U.S. Forces Korea, which is responsible for 28,500 service employees and civilian employees reported 51 new infections over seven-day period ending Tuesday. The record was 1,599 from Jan. 4-10.
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 153 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 will lift a lockdown, which has been in effect since Sept. 1. Residents will still need to have at least one test each week and negative results within 72 hours are needed for entering public venues and taking public transportation, according to the statement.
Shanghai, the largest metro area at 26.32 million people, earlier ended a two-month lockdown that was in place since the spring.
Hong Kong, like China, has adopted a “zero tolerance” for coronavirus.
Last week, incoming travelers who test positive for COVID-19 can remain in their quarantine hotels instead of being transferred to isolation hotels or community facilities.
Plans are in the works to end hotel quarantine for inbound travelers , Oriental Daily reported.
Also like China, there are other strong restrictions, including masks worn at most times, limits on public gatherings, tests for bar patrons and weekly ones for students.
Hong Kong reported 23 deaths and 7,322 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 13.6% of counties, districts and territories with a “high” category level, compared with 35.8% “medium” and 50.5% “low.” In “high” locations, masks are urged indoors.
The seven-day moving average for cases Thursday was 59,904, the lowest since 58,900 May 1, according to the CDC. And the deaths average Sunday fell to 339, the lowest since 320 on June 22.
New hospitalizations in the United States from Aug. 31 to Tuesday were 4,657, which is a 6.1% weekly drop. A total of 5,298,500 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception with a population of 332 million. The U.S. total reported Sunday was 30,659, which is 4.4% 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 90.3% with full vaccination at 77.4% and one booster at 51.7%. The full population rates are 79.3% for one shot, 67.7% for two, 48.6% for three, 34.7% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster.
A new booster, targeting Omicron, approved by the CDC on Sept. 1