Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a memorial service marking the 77th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug.15. The prime minister tested positive for COVID-18 on Sunday. Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/pool/EPA-EFE

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a memorial service marking the 77th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug.15. The prime minister tested positive for COVID-18 on Sunday. Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/pool/EPA-EFE

Aug. 21 (UPI) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tested positive for COVID-19, the government announced Sunday, as the country averages a world-high 200,000 cases in the past week and record deaths.

The coronavirus situation continues to ease worldwide with 14% weekly decline in cases and 17% drop in deaths.

On Saturday night, Kishida, 65, experienced mild symptoms, slight fever and cough, and took a PCR test on Sunday morning, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Kishida is resting at his official residence in Tokyo after canceling a planned trip to Tunisia to attend a Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a source told the Japan Times Sunday. He plans to join the conference online.

Last month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the government’s top spokesman, tested positive after ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Taro Kono.

On Sunday, Japan reported 226,171 cases, including 24,780 in Tokyo. The nation added a record 255,534 on Thursday.

Also 226 deaths were added, two days after a record 287. Until this seventh wave, the record was 272 Feb. 23. The country’s cumulative fatalities are 37,076 in 28th worldwide.

Japan has risen to the top 10 worldwide for most cases, 17,205,939

In the past week, Japan added a world-high 1,400 infections, which was actually a 3% decline, one week after a 3% gain. The nation’s deaths were 1,754, which is a 24% gain, and second in the world behind the United States’ 2,170, which dropped 28%.

Though BA.5 Omicron subvariant spreads worldwide, infections dropped to 4,999,812 with a daily average of 714,259 and passing 1 million the last time on April 13, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. On Jan. 21, the daily record was set at 3,839,998. The total passed 600 million at 600,699,779, including 628,620 Saturday when Japan added 253,265.

Fatalities in the past week were down to 14,197. That daily average is 2,028 with the recent low 1,297 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 total is 6,471,483, including 1,256 Saturday. It was last under 1,000 on June 19 with 946.

Some nations do not report data on weekends. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t report data on Saturdays and Sundays.

Other case increases in the past week with more than 25,000 in descending order were Russia with a fourth-high 160,580 with a fourth-high 40%, Hong Kong 39,682 with 28% up.

South Korea reported the second most cases, 893,032 with a 5% gain, No. 3 United States 513,235 with a 30% decline, No. 4 Germany 272,836 with 11% fewer, No. 6 Taiwan 153,130 with 1% rise, No. 7 Italy 150,922 with 22% decrease, No. 8 France 122,486 with 21% lower, No. 9 Australia 122,486 with 26% decrease, No. 10 Brazil 114,894 with 25% drop.

Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with big increases in the past week: No. 11 South Korea 414 with a 25% gain, Philippines 316 at 56%, Indonesia 157 at 25%, Hungary 117 at 46%.

Brazil had the third-most deaths with 1,080 but a 26% decline. No. 4 Germany 806 with a 4% drop, No. 5 Italy 677 with 26% lower, No. 6 Britain 533 with 46% drop, No. 7 Australia 492 with 9% decrease, No. 8 Iran 471 with a 2% increase, No. 9 France 437 with 9% fewer, No. 10 Russia 324 with 14% rise.

Every continent reported a weekly cases decrease for the second week in a row, led by two with 30%:
North America cumulative 113,201,601 and South America 63,259,716 followed by Africa 22% for 12,588,063, Oceania 20% for 11,990,574, Europe 17% with a world-high 219,813,553, Asia 6% for 179,845,551.

Asia reported the only deaths increase for the second consecutive week with 4% for 1,460,232. Decreases were led by two with 25%; Europe a world-high 1,895,263 and North America 1,517,274 followed by South America 23% for 1,322,685, Oceania 10% for 18,729, Africa 3% for 257,285.

The U.S. leads with 1,065,555 fatalities and 95,331,029 infections, according to Worldometers.info. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 909,397 on Jan. 13. Brazil is second in deaths at 682,560, including 103 Sunday and fourth in cases at 34,279,785, including 15,548 Sunday. India is second in cases at 44,339,429, including 11,539 Sunday and 8,813 Monday and 9,062 Tuesdsay, the last time under five digits since 7,891 June 14, and third in deaths at 527,332, including 43 Sunday.

India has the daily deaths record at 4,529 on May 18, 2021, with no adjustments from regions.

Russia is fourth in deaths at 383,560, including 64 Sunday with 34 22 days ago, tied for the least since April 16, 2020.

In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 329,081 including 69 Saturday, Peru sixth with 215,268 and no data Saturday, Britain seventh with 187,018 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 174,659 including 88 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 157,377 including 12 Sunday and France 10th with 153,501 with no change Saturday.

In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 34,339.792 including 19,870 Sunday, Germany is fifth with 31,808,179, Britain sixth with 23,460,787, South Korea seventh with 22,240,331 including 110,944 Sunday, Italy eighth with 21,630,998 including 24,392 Saturday, Russia ninth with 19,117,343 including 39,669 Sunday, Turkey 10th with 16,671,848.

In the past week, South Korea past Italy with 178,480, the most since 195,370 April 13.

On Thursday, 92.1% of the 287 deaths reported were those 60 and older. Since January 2020 when the country confirmed its first virus case, a total of 29 citizens aged younger than 10 have died, including 20.7 percent were reported since last month, the KDCA said.

Among those aged 18 and younger, a total of 44 COVID-19 patients have died so far with 52.3% underlying health conditions, including neurological disorders and endocrine system issues.

“The inoculation campaign for young citizens seeks to prevent serious cases and deaths. Vaccination is highly recommended for those with underlying diseases,” a KDCA official said.

Children aged 5-11 are supposed to receive two-dose vaccinations but 1.5% in this age group have been fully vaccinated. Those aged 12-17 are eligible for a booster shot, with 16.5% inoculated so far.

In all, more than 12.5 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, according to Bloomberg tracking. Mainland China leads with 3.4 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 2.1 billion among the 1.4 billion population and a 74.2% 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 57% and Africa at 27%, according to The New York Times tracking.

Japan, which has an 82.7% one-shot vaccination rate among all residents, is in the midst of a seventh wave.

In the first peak, cases hit 26,184 on Aug. 22, 2021, amid the Delta surge and two weeks after the close of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which were delayed one year because of the pandemic. The cases record until the surge was 105,816 on Feb. 6.

Officials have warned of a further strain on the medical system. The advisory panel said infections are declining in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

“We need to ensure that new infection cases continue to trend lower in the next week or two,” experts said.

Japan, unlike other nations, has kept strict travel limits and isolation guidelines. On Sept. 1, the metropolitan Tokyo government will resume its tourism promotion campaign for residents after it was put on hiatus late last month, Gov. Yuriko Koike told a news conference last week.

Despite the rising numbers, Japan has low cases and deaths rates.

Japan has 293 deaths per million, which is 128th in the nation, with the world at 830.2 and Peru No. 1 at 6,341.

In cases, Japan’s rate is 134,670 per million in 103th place with the world 77,067 and Austria the highest among large countries at 533,382 with Portugal 532,076 and Denmark 528,458. Japan’s population is 125 million.

The BA.5 Omicron strain has become the most dominant in the world, accounting for 88.9% of cases in the United States, according to the CDC projections through Saturday. The strain was first tracked in late April. Virtually all of the cases are linked to the Omicron variant.

The CDC has classified 33.9% of counties, districts and territories with a “high” category level, compared with 39.6% last week, with 41.1% “medium” and 25% “low.” In “high” locations, masks are urged indoors.

New hospitalizations in the U.S. from July 27 to Tuesday were 5,690, which is a 6.1% weekly drop. A total of 5,161,555 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception.

COVID-19 treatments, including Paxlovid, are predicted to be effective to mitigate the illness. It is free in the United States.

On Thursday in its weekly report, the CDC reported the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate was 90% with full vaccination at 77.2% and one booster at 51.5%. The full population rates are 79% for one shot, 67.4% for two, 48.4% for three, 33.2% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged the Black community to get a booster shot in preparation of the fall surge. He was interviewed last week by theGrio.

“If the African-American population… want to diminish their risk of infection and severe disease, stay heads up for the availability of this updated bivalent BA.5 vaccine,” he said of the booster that could be available as soon as mid-September.

Black Americans’ rates are 1.1 times for cases than white people, 2.2 for hospitalization and 1.7 for deaths, according to the CDC. Hispanic is 1.5% for cases, 2.1 for hospitalizations, 1.8% for deaths. For American Indian or Alaska Native, the rates are 1.5 for cases, 2.8 for hospitalizations, 2.1 for deaths.

“African Americans as a group, generally, are employed in jobs that put them out into society in contact with individuals where the risk of getting infected is greater than someone who can actually do their job behind a computer screen or in front of a Zoom,” Fauci said.

He also mentioned that underlying conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and chronic lung disease that disproportionately affect Black Americans and other people of color, “make it more likely that if you do get infected, you’ll have a severe outcome.”

China, where COVID-19 emerged more than 2 1/2 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 602 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.

Shanghai was locked down because of the recent outbreak. Two months earlier all schools, including nurseries, were closed but they will reopen on Sept. 1.

In the eastern city of Yiwu, production resumed Sunday on Christmas decorations. Around two-thirds of the world’s Christmas products are made there.

The city has reported 710 confirmed cases this month.

In the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen, more than five million people have been ordered to undergo testing after some 40 cases of the virus were detected. And Xiamen’s Jimei Maritime Pandemic Control district committee issued a notice saying “both fishermen and their seafood must be tested.”

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