Jan. 10 (UPI) — More than one year after COVID-19 first surfaced in Mainland China, the pandemic has been accelerating worldwide to more than 1.9 million deaths and nearly 90 million cases despite restrictions, including lockdowns, and the development of vaccines

In three months, the death toll has nearly doubled and cases jumped about 2 1/2 times.

On Oct. 10, fatalities were 1,079,984 compared with the current 1,939,040 so far Sunday with infections now 90,363,015 in contrast to 38,158,808 then, according to tracking by Worldometers.info.

Deaths reported in one day hit a record 15,220 on Dec. 30 with it not surpassing 9,000 until Nov. 4. Cases reached a record 833,913 Thursday after passing 400,000 for the first time on Oct. 15.

Though the pandemic has touched every portion of the globe, including Antarctica, the surge has been especially prominent in the United States and Europe.

The United States for months has had the most deaths, 372,884, and cases, 22,177,373, according to Johns Hopkins. On Oct. 15, deaths numbered 218,274 and cases were nearly 8 million. The nation passed 4,000 deaths and 300,000 cases for the first time in the past week.

Europe has also experienced exponential increases. Death and cases records stood from the spring for months. But recently, they have been broken.

Since Oct. 10, deaths have climbed from more than 230,000 to 588,920 so far Sunday and cases from 6 million to 25,910,592.

Five European nations are in the top 10: Britain is fifth with 80,868, Italy sixth with 78,394, France seventh with 67,599 and Russia eighth with 61,837.

Britain moved ahead of Italy with the most deaths behind the United States, Brazil at 202,716, India with 150,999 and Mexico with 133,204 deaths. On Friday, the kingdom reported record deaths of 1,325 and 68,053 cases. Until two days ago, the high fatality mark had been 1,166 on April 21. Through three months ago, daily cases hadn’t surpassed 17,000.

On Sunday, Britain reported 563 deaths and 54,940 cases.

A second lockdown ended on Dec. 2 but with a new variant spreading, Prime Minister Boris Johnson instituted a tier system, with a fourth put into place through the kingdom, including London. On Monday, the entire nation went into lockdown. And a fifth tier is under consideration.

He has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to cut down the spread, including closing schools.

“I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this change will cause millions of people and parents up and down the country,” Johnson said Monday. “The problem isn’t that schools are unsafe for children … the problem is that schools may act as vectors of transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

The new strain is estimated to be 50% to 70% more contagious.

“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,” Johnson said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the “situation has deteriorated further” since Monday.

But more than 2 million people have been vaccinated, including “around a third of the over-80s” and the “most vulnerable” will be vaccinated by the “middle of February.”

No. 6 Italy, which at one time was the world’s epicenter, reported 361 deaths after a record 993 Dec. 3 and 18,627 cases after record 40,896 on Nov. 13. Cases hadn’t passed 10,000 until Oct. 16 and deaths were 921 on March 27 with numbers going down dramatically to single digits in the summer.

On Sunday, five Italian region — Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Sicily and Veneto — entered “orange zones” with tougher restrictions. Travel is curtailed and only essential services, including restaurant takeout, allowed.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis‘ personal doctor, Fabrizio Soccorsi, died as a result of “complications due to Covid,” the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano announced Saturday. Soccorsi, 78, has been the pope’s personal doctor since 2015.

Francis is scheduled to be vaccinated this week.

“It is an ethical duty to take the vaccine, here in the Vatican we will start next week, I am also in line to take it,” he said Saturday in an interview with Canale 5.

France reported 168 deaths Saturday after 932 on Nov. 13 — the most since a record of 1,437 in April. Cases are 20,177 cases after a record 86,852 on Oct. 31.

France’s border with Britain would remain shut “until further notice,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday. It was put into effect on Dec. 20.

Russia reported 456 deaths Sunday after a record 635 Dec. 24 and 22,851 cases after record 29,935 Dec. 24 and fourth overall with 3,401,954. Russia passed 12,000 cases on Oct. 9 for the first time and more than 300 deaths initially Oct. 20.

Last week, Russia said it had passed the 1 million mark with Sputnik 5 vaccinations.

Spain doesn’t report data on weekends but reported 199 deaths and a record 25,456 cases Friday.

With the number of cases steadily rising since the holidays, several regions have announced tougher restrictions, including reducing travel.

Germany had largely controlled the pandemic with the record for most deaths reported in one day before Oct. 10 as 333 on April 8.

But there were a record 1,244 deaths on Dec. 29 and record 31,553 cases Dec. 18.

A total of 172 deaths and 5,582 cases were reported so far Sunday.

In a weekly address Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning it will probably be the toughest weeks of the pandemic yet, told Germans “prudence and consideration” will pay off with the start of vaccinations.

The coronavirus had spread to Europe from Mainland China, which hasn’t reported a death since April 26 and has dropped to 44th place with 4,634, behind Tunisia. It added 69 cases Sunday.

More than 11 million people are under lockdown amid an outbreak in Shijiazhuang, near Beijing, where 117 tested positive.

Authorities plan to test every resident and quarantine those who are positive.

Last year, the Chinese government sealed off Wuhan two days before the Lunar New Year.

Though the numbers are dramatically lower than other nations worldwide, Japan and South Korea have set records in the past few weeks.

South Korea reported 25 deaths Sunday after a record 40 on Dec. 29 for a total of 1,125, as well as 665 new cases, behind the record of 1,241 on Dec. 25.

On Friday, officials said South Korea likely has passed the peak of the third wave with residents adhering to social distancing rules.

Japan reported 45 new deaths Sunday for a total of 3,850, while adding 4,035 cases, tallying 288,818 since the start of the pandemic. The nation set a record of 7,882 new daily cases two days ago and reported a record 78 deaths twice last week.

Asia has the fourth-most deaths at 348,143 and third-most cases at 21,450,585. India and Iran are in the top 10 for most deaths.

No. 3 India reported 201 deaths, compared with a national-record 1,299 in the summer, to climb to 150,999 in third place. Cases were 18,645 compared with a record 97,859, also this summer, and is second in the world, with 10,450,284.

On Saturday, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced that the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive would start Saturday. They plan to vaccinate 300 million frontline workers, elderly and vulnerable of the 1.35 billion population, which is second in the world behind China, by August.

Iran is ninth with 55,171 deaths, including 71 Sunday.

In Israel, with 3,651 deaths and 487,680 cases, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received his second BioNTech vaccine dose. Netanyahu has pledged to have all residents vaccinated before April.

South America has the third-most deaths, 375,823, and fourth-most cases, 13,916,370.

Besides Brazil, the continent has three other spots in the top 20 for most deaths: Colombia in 11th with 45,784, Argentina in 12th with 44,417 and Peru in 14th with 38,213.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus and said he won’t be vaccinated, has agreed to buy up to 100 million doses of a shot being developed by Sinovac in China.

Cases and deaths have been spiking in Brazil.

On Saturday, Brazil reported 1,115 deaths for a total of 202,657 compared with record of 1,554 on July 29. And cases were 60,078 two days after record 87,134 with total third at 8,075,998. A record of 70,869 had stood until last week.

In late December, Mexico was the first nation in Latin America to begin vaccinations from Pfizer. Last week, Mexico approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheaper than other brands and can be shipped and stored in normal refrigerators.

Like other nations, Mexico’s deaths and cases have surged.

On Saturday, Mexico reported a record 1,135 deaths, surpassing the mark of 1,092 on June 4. Cases also hit a record, 16,015. A record of 9,866 on Aug. 2 stood until late November.

The land border between Mexico, the United States and Canada are closed until Jan. 21. It’s been that way since March.

Since the start of the pandemic, Mexico has reported 601,663 cases, including a record 11,373 and surpassing 10,000 for the first time last week. Between May 26 and Aug. 30 cases were never more than 1,000.

North America has the second-most deaths of the continents, 552,577, and the most cases, 25,976,912, less than 100,000 more more than Europe.

All but around 20,000 of the total deaths in North America are in Canada, U.S. and Mexico.

Canada is 22 in the world with 16,833, reporting 126 deaths after a record 257 Dec. 29 and 8,125 cases six days after a record 11,373. Deaths were as low as single digits in the summer.

“Frankly, it’s frightening to see cases rise at home and around the world, day after day,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa on Friday.

He said Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine will ramp up in February with only 1 million so far vaccinated of the 37.9 Canadians.

“Remember that Canada has the most vaccines secured per capita in the world, which means that, by September, we will have enough vaccines for every Canadian who wants one.”

Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has recorded 1,067 deaths and 48,987 cases.

New Zealand’s deaths have remained at 25 since Sept. 16 and Australia added one new death to its death toll two weeks ago after being at 908 since Nov. 30.

New Zealand reported 31 cases Sunday, tallying 38 in one week, for a total of 2,219 and Australia was up 12 Sunday for 28,595, an increase of 112 in seven days.

But after a single case of the new variant from Britain was reported, greater Brisbane, with 2.3 million people, went into a three-day lockdown starting Friday night with only essential businesses allowed open, and only takeout and delivery for food.

“I know they will be some in Brisbane today asking why is this necessary?” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday. “There is only one case. Well, this isn’t any ordinary case. This is a very special case and one that requires us to treat things quite differently until we know more.”

And Morrison said all international travelers must undergo testing before flying to Australia.

“There are many unknowns and uncertainties in relation to the new strain, and so that’s why this precautionary approach, we believe, is very sensible,” he said.

Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales, including Sydney, put into place one Sunday ago social distancing restrictions and mandatory mask wearing.

Victoria, which includes Melbourne, already made masks mandatory while limiting gatherings and shutting its border to NSW.

In Africa, there have been 72,253 deaths, which increased by 5,000 in one week and 3,040,220 cases.

South Africa leads the continent with 32,824 deaths and is 15th in the world, including 399 Saturday followed by Egypt at 8,142 after gaining 57 Saturday and Morocco at 7,709 with an additional 24.

South Africa has the 16th-most cases in the world for a total 1,214,716, including 21,606 Saturday behind the mark of 21,980 the day before.

A coronavirus variant has been discovered in the nation.





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