A person receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by a firefighter at a vaccination centre set up at the fire station of Vailhauques, France, on Thursday. The nation reported a record 104,611 cased Saturday. Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA/EFE
Dec. 26 (UPI) — One month after the first COVID-19 Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa, cases have surged worldwde despite restrictions and vaccines though some nations haven’t reported drastic increases.
In one week, infections rose 13% with 5,145,488 for a total of 280,028,221 so far Sunday. Deaths actually went down 10% or 43,144 for a toll of 5,415,714, according to Worldometers.info tracking.
Several nations set daily cases records recently. On Saturday, France reported 104,611 cases. On Friday, marks were set in Britain at 122,186 and Italy 50,599 with those nations not reporting data on Christmas Day. Canada set a national record with 21,493 and then reported 11,306 Friday and 2,458 Saturday. Australia’s record was 9,947 Saturday.
Worldwide, cases hit a record 982,822 Thursday. On Saturday there was a total of 279,824,412 on Christmas Day as several agencies didn’t report data.
In the United States, 291,671 cases Monday were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is the most since the record 294,015 Jan, 8. The most recent infections are 243,817 posted on Thursday. The CDC lists the total as 51,574,787. Johns Hopkins lists 52,092,894 and Worldometers.info at 53,026,765. They all lead the world.
The U.S. also has the most deaths, 837,779, according to Worldometers.info.
Some countries have been immune to the new strain despite record surges earlier in the year.
In the past week, India declined 7% with the daily cases under 20,000 since the beginning of October and only 6,987 Sunday with the world record 414,188 in May. Indonesia was down 8% weekly with only 92 reported Sunday after a record 54,000 in July. And Brazil dropped 8% with 4,164 infections Saturday, compared with a record 115,041 in June.
Travel restrictions, especially from African nations, have been in place.
On the Christmas weekend, airlines blamed shortages of staff, including coronavirus illnesses, in cancellations of nearly 2,400 flights on Friday and more than 2,300 on Saturday. A total of 800 were in the United States.
Early studies in Scotland and England suggest that infections from the variant could be milder, meaning fewer hospitalizations. But hospitals are reporting an increase, including in the United States with 71,011 Sunday though down from more than 100,000 during the Delta surge in the summer.
“When we have millions and millions and millions of people, all sick, all together at one time, it doesn’t take a large percentage of those people to topple over the hospitals,” Dr. Hallie Prescott, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, told The New York Times.
Much of the world’s population has been vaccinated, though the Omicron variant appears to be more resistant to vaccines than other strains. Boosters are showing a greater impact.
In all, more than 8.95 billion doses have been administered, an increase of 240 million in one week with the world’s population of 7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg tracking.
Broken down by world regions, the United States and Canada have administered at least one dose to 74% of the population, followed by Latin America at 71%, Asia-Pacific 68%, Europe at 65%, Middle East 49% and Africa at 13%, according to The New York Times tracking.
China, which has the world’s largest population at 1.5 billion, had administered 2.6 billion doses, or about 88.6% of the population for one-shots, ahead of India at 1.4 billion and the world’s second biggest population at 1.4 billion with a 61.0% rate, according to Bloomberg. The United States is third at 500 million and 72.7%.
In Europe, the total is 729.7 million vaccinated with a 73% one shot rate. In the European Union, it’s 87.1% in Denmark, 84.8% in Spain, 81.3% in France, 79.7% in Italy, 77.2% in Netherlands, 73.9% in Germany. Britain, which has left the EU, has a 77.3% rate.
Russia is lagging the world in vaccination with 49.4% of its population with at least one dose of a domestic-produced vaccine, including Sputnik 5, according to tracking by Bloomberg.
Two other Eastern European nations have low vaccination rates: Ukraine at 34.9% and Romania at 40.9%. Poland’s rate is 56.7%, Czech Republic’s is 63.9% and Austria 74.3%.
Cases have been surging in Europe. They rose 8% with a world-high 2,800,041 one week after a 1% gain for 83,387,618, second only to Asia, but many nations on the continent are experiencing spikes. Deaths decreased 12% to a total of 1,509,123 in first place among continents.
Experiencing big weekly jumps in cases were Italy 62%, France 41%, Spain 35%, Denmark 26% and Britain 21%.
Britain reported the most cases in one week, 613,332, for a total of 11,891,292 in fourth place. France was second at 510,995 for 9,088,371 total in seventh.
Britain first surpassed 100,000 on Thursday with 119,557. Until the recent surge the record was 67,794 in early January. Sunday’s cases were.
Britain’s deaths are 147,857 in seventh, including 137 Friday. Britain reportedly was the first nation to report a death from Omicron 13 days ago.
In the kingdom, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have placed curbs on the hospitality and leisure industry, brought back social distancing rules and put limits on gathering sizes.
Current Plan B rules for England include vaccination passes for certain events, face masks in more places and people urged to work from home if possible.
Boxing Day football matches in Scotland’s premiership on Sunday were played in front of a maximum of 500 seated fans, and in Wales all large sporting events were without spectators.
Hospitalizations rose 8% over the week to 6,581.
Before the onset of Omicron, COVID-19 had already been at high levels in Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Poland.
On Sunday, Russia reported 968 deaths, with the record 1,254 on Nov. 19, for a total of 304,218 in fourth place, passing Mexico last week. And the nation added 23,721 cases for 10,392,020, in fifth place, including a record 41,335 on Nov. 6. Russia’s deaths are down by 10% for a total of 7,70, which is second in the world behind the U.S., and a 9% drop in cases to 181,476.
Russia has exceeded 1,000 deaths every day since Oct. 16. Also, Russia hasn’t been below 700 since July. Last year, deaths reached 635 on Dec. 24.
Germany is under a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, including nonessential services. Large events are all banned.
Cases hit a record 76,132 on Nov. 25 in Germany. Until Nov. 4, the record was 32,546 on April 14. On Sunday, Germany reported 9,597 for a total of 7,009,073, which is eighth in the world.
Deaths declined 17% in one week to 2,189 after spiking for a few weeks. And cases declined 27%.
On Dec. 24, Germany reported 575 deaths, the most since 589 on Feb. 16. Sunday’s gain was 51 for 111,076 in 14th. Deaths are nowhere near the record of 1,249 on Dec. 29.
In deaths elsewhere, Italy is ninth with 136,611, including 81 Sunday. In the top 20: France is 12th with 122,546, an increase of 84 Saturday; Ukraine 15th with 94,838, including 138 more Sunday; Poland 16th with 94,327, and Spain 18th with 89,019 and no data on weekends.
Eleven days ago France’s cases increased 65,713, the most since a record 83,324 in November 2020. France posted 104,611 Saturday and 94,124 Friday.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron is considering restrictions. On Monday, Macron will convene his health defense council Monday to discuss the coronavirus, including a system requiring people to be fully vaccinated to enter bars, restaurants and cultural venues.
More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalized for coronavirus in France.
In Italy, the record 54,762 cases Saturday surpassed the record of 41,198 in November 2020. Sunday’s rise was 24,883.
On Thursday, Italy’s government approved stricter rules on health passes and masks. Outdoor public events and parties are banned during the festive season.
Although cases dropped 16% in Netherlands, the nation is on a lockdown through at least Jan. 14 with schools and colleges, all non-essential shops and cultural institutions shuttered.
In Denmark, new restrictions include capacity restrictions for stores and restaurants with a 26% weekly rise in cases.
In Asia over the past week, deaths increased by only 12 with a current 1,248,809 and cases were down 5% with 84,140,710.
India’s deaths rose 14% to 2,260 eight weeks after a surge of 83%. Cases were down 7%.
On Sunday, India reported 162 fatalities for a total of 479,682 in third place.
Cases were 6,987 Feb. 3 among the lowest since 2,992 for a total of 34,786,802, in second worldwide.
India holds world daily records, not including major reconciliations: 6,148 deaths in June and 414,188 cases in May.
The nation’s cases have been under 20,000 for 79 days in a row and below 50,000 for 182 consecutive days.
India, which is the prime manufacturer of vaccines for the world, has a one-shot rate for the entire population of 61% in a ramped-up effort.
With 422 Omicron cases reported in 17 states and territories, the Union Health Ministry has asked states to ensure stringent implementation of COVID-19 protocols.
That includes a night curfew in Delhi. Also, all events or gatherings to celebrate Christmas or New Year are banned in the city. Since Dec. 15, all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious events are prohibited.
The pandemic began in late 2019 in Mainland China, but the nation’s death toll has stood at 4,636 for several months and 82nd behind Zimbabwe at 4,885. China added 206 cases Sunday, the most since 325 in April 2020, three months after its peak.
Xi’an city, with a population of 13 million went into a lockdown last week with 140 cases in less than two weeks, mainly from the Delta variant.
South Korea’s cases rose 5,418 Sunday, 6,234 Sunday after a record 7,843 on Dec. 15 with 2020’s highest 1,237 on Dec. 25. South Korea added 69 deaths Sunday after a record 109 Thursday.
Public facilities, including restaurants and cafes, were added to businesses requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry.
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said critically ill patients rose to a new high of 1,063 on Tuesday. South Korea will secure 10,000 additional hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in January for a total of 25,000.
South Korea’s vaccination rate is 84.9%, after getting off to a late start.
Japan reported no deaths again Sunday and eight total in the past week with a total of 18,399.
And there were 263 cases Sunday compared with the record of 25,492 on Aug. 21 after the Summer Olympics ended on Aug. 8. On Nov. 22 there were only 50 cases.
Japan has a relatively low 13,753 infections per million and 146 deaths per million. Worldwide, it’s 35,916 cases per million and 694.7 per million deaths. The United States’ figures are 2,508 fatalities per million and 158,821 infections per million.
Japan, which administered its first vaccine doses two months after the United States, has vaccinated 79.5% of the 129.4 million population.
On Sunday, Vietnam reported 15,218 cases, less than the record 16,715 in August and 207 deaths. The deaths mark is 803 on Sept. 1.
Indonesia ranks eighth in the world at 144,055 with an increase of two deaths Sunday, way down from a record 2,069 on July 27. The Asian nation’s cases are 14th at 4,261,759 including 164 Sunday, also a fraction of the record 54,000 in July. Indonesia has vaccinated 58.2% of its population with at least one dose.
Iran is 10th at 131,400 deaths, including 52 Sunday. Iran’s one-shot vaccination rate is 71%, up from 43.6% 11 weeks ago.
Turkey is sixth in the world for cases at 9,307,124, including 20,138 reported Sunday and 19th in deaths at 81,576, including 173 most recently. Turkey has a 68.3% vaccination rate.
Israel’s one-shot vaccination rate is 72%.
Israel has a death toll of 8,242 with one reported Sunday and 20 in the past week and 1,561 cases most recently with the record 20,523 on Sept. 1. Israel has among the world’s worst infection rates: 146,240 per million.
After Omicron emerged in the nation, all foreign nationals were banned from coming into Israel.
Last week, Israel agreed to ease travel restrictions to “red zone” countries for Israelis living abroad, allowing them to leave the country and return to their places of residence. The United States and Canada are in this zone.
The United States on Friday eliminated travel bans from South Africa and seven other nations on the continent. Like other travelers, they will be required to be fully vaccinated.
The United States was allowing entry to fully vaccinated foreign travelers from 33 nations, including by air and land. Travel for U.S. residents was allowed earlier.
Canada earlier ended its advisory against non-essential travel for vaccinated citizens. Canada reopened its border to vaccinated Americans in August.
In North America, the deaths are 1,235,078 with an 18% weekly decrease, and cases are 63,028,963, increasing 32%.
The United States’ deaths decreased 18% and cases rose 30%. On Saturday, the United States reported 108 deaths and 40,458 cases though most states don’t report data on weekends.
Mexico is fifth in the world in deaths at 298,759 with a 7% weekly decrease and 89 recorded Saturday. The nation’s cases rose 13% with 2,916 most recently for 16th at 3,950,200.
Canada’s cases rose 91% in one week, including 2,458 for 27th in cases with 1,959,518.
Canada’s deaths went down 22% and the nation ranks 27th worldwide with 30,143 including four Saturday. The record is 257 on Dec. 29.
Canada has around one-third the rates per million than the United States with deaths 788 and cases 51,253.
Canada has the best one-shot vaccination rate of the three largest countries in North America at 82.7%. The United States is at 72.7% for one shot. Mexico’s percentage is 64.2%, though it was the first Latin American nation to begin vaccinating people.
In Quebec province, slightly more than 10,000 new cases were added Friday, passing the previous record of 9,397 new cases reported one day. Ontario reported 9,571 cases, surpassing the 5,790 the province posted on Thursday.
“The Omicron variant is more contagious than anything seen since the start of the pandemic,” Premier François Legault wrote in a Christmas message posted to Facebook. “I count on your judgment to respect the instructions and to be careful.”
In Mexico, only 22 Omicron cases have been detected.
Of Mexico’s 32 states, all are low-risk green on the federal government’s coronavirus stoplight map except for Durango, Aguascalientes, Baja California, Sonora and Chihuahua at medium-risk yellow.
In South America, cases increased 38% in one week with a total of 39,456,644 and deaths also were down 18% to 1,190,542.
Brazil’s deaths dropped 27% to 618,457 in second place overall, and down 8% in cases.
Brazil reported 28 deaths Saturday after 201 Friday. Cases were 3,889 after 4,164, among the lowest since the start of the pandemic. The record was 115,0412 in June 20.
Also in the top 10 for deaths, Peru is sixth at 202,488. Colombia is 11th at 129,729, Argentina is 13th with 117,020 and Chile 22nd with 39,034
On Sunday, Chile reported 21 more deaths while Peru added 34, Colombia 43 and Argentina 12. These numbers are way down from records: Peru with 1,154, Colombia with 754, Argentina with 791, Chile with 316.
Peru has the world’s highest death rate at 6,017 per million people.
Some South American nations have high vaccinations rates. Chile has the best vaccination rate on the continent at 90% with Argentina 84.2%, Brazil at 78.9%, Colombia at 75.6% and Peru 72.6%.
With the variant emerging in Africa, the continent reported a 10% increase in cases one week after 52% increase with a total of 9,550,050, as deaths went up 3% for a total toll of 227,697.
South Africa’s infections decreased 29% a week after a 49% gain and deaths were up 87%. The Omicron variant was first reported on Nov. 24.
Overall, South Africa has reported 3,407,937 cases, in 18th worldwide, with 14,828 Saturday. Fourteen days ago there was a record 37,875.
The nation is 17th in deaths at 90,773, including 30 most recently.
The situation is actually easing in South Africa and symptoms are generally less severe than other variants.
Hospitalizations and deaths are “significantly lower relative to that experienced in previous waves,” Ridhwaan Suliman, senior researcher at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research told CNN last week.
He said South Africa has “surpassed the peak of the Omicron wave now, driven by the significant decline in the populous province and epicenter: Gauteng.”
Tunisia has the second-most deaths with 25,423 head of Egypt with 21,571.
Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 4,447 deaths with a decrease of 10% in seven days and cases are 454,701 with a rise of 13%.
New Zealand’s deaths remained at 49. Australia’s toll increased to 2,190, with two reported Sunday and 44 in a week.
New Zealand added 70 cases Sunday after a record 222 Nov. 16. Australia was up 8,744 one day after a record 9,947. The most in 2020 at 714 in August.
New South Wales, which is Australia’s most populous state, reported a record 6,394 new infections. Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, added 1,608 new cases
The Omicron variant is responsible for more than 70% of cases in some Australian states.
“We would expect that pretty well everybody in New South Wales at some point will get Omicron,” State Health Minister Brad Hazzard said Sunday. “If we’re all going to get Omicron, the best way to face it is when we have full vaccinations including our booster.”
Australia has a vaccination rate of 79.9% with New Zealand at 80.6% among the entire population.
In Australia, Victoria and New South Wales are no longer in lockdowns after months-long ones.
New Zealand is now on a traffic light system based on vaccinations with only a portion in the north in Red. Auckland earlier ended its 107-day lockdown for vaccinated people.