A police officer wearing a mask watched a examing a candidates list during voting at a polling station in Moscow on Friday. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

A police officer wearing a mask watched a examing a candidates list during voting at a polling station in Moscow on Friday. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

Sept. 11 (UPI) — COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide are at the lowest levels since June with a 21% weekly drop in infections to around 475,000 daily and a 24% decline in fatalities to about 1,550 each day with few countries reporting increases in the past week, including Russia.

Daily deaths dropped to 693 Sunday, the lowest since 677 March 16, 2020, and 874 Saturday, the first time under 1,000 since June 19’s 963, according to Wordomerers.info. Cases were 292,889, the lowest since 281,019 June 21, 2021, after 364,012 Saturday.

In the past week, 3,325,074 cases were reported and 10,861 deaths worldwide.

The total number of cases was 613,741,176 and deaths were 6,516,546 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.

Even the most recent hotspots — Japan and South Korea — are subsiding.

On Sunday, Japan added 81,491 infections, with a 21% weekly decline, for a total of 20,174,553 in ninth worldwide, passing Russia in the past week with the record 255,534 three weeks ago. In the past week, Japan led the world with 743,974.

Also, Japan gained 104 deaths for a total of 42,675 in 26th globally, eight days after a record 291.

South Korea posted the second-most weekly cases 479,625, a 20% decrease, for a total of 23,569,192, but only 28,214 Sunday, the fewest in one month in sixth place. The nation added 79 deaths for a cumulative 27,476 in 37th, including a 19% weekly drop at 415, seventh-most worldwide.

Though BA.5 Omicron subvariant spreads worldwide, infections dropped to a daily average of 475,010, the lowest figure since 436,486 June 11 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 3,842,921.

Fatalities in the past week were down to 12,675. That seven-day daily average is 1,552 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.

In the past week, Asia reported 52% of the world’s cases though it dropped 20% for a cumulative 186,436,320, according to Worldometers.info. Every continent decreased led by South America 50% for 63,859,684, North America at 38% for 115,218,570, Africa 31% for 12,627,301, Oceania 28% for 12,246,476, Europe 9% for a high 223,352,104.

Continents reporting deaths increases were Oceania 8% for 20,041 and Africa 1% for 257,493. Decreases were North America 35% for 1,529,574, South America 34% for 1,327,311, Europe 23% for a high 1,909,018, Asia 14% for 1,473,094.

The U.S. leads with 1,075,668 fatalities and 97,095,092 infections. The U.S. holds the world record for daily cases at 906,088 on Jan. 6. Brazil is second in deaths at 684,914, including 9 Sunday, the least since recordkeeping began, and fourth in cases at 34,574,765, including 2,285 Sunday, also the fewest ever. India is second in cases at 44,495,357, including 5,068 Sunday and 2,869 Aug. 25, the least since 2,745 May 31, and third in deaths at 528,150, including 3 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 Taiwan 13% with 241,382 and Poland 23% with 25,007. Russia rose 3% at 332,400 in fourth behind No. 3 United States at 358,567 with a 38% drop.

Also in the top 10 for most cases, No. 6 Germany was 11% lower with 204,422, No. 7 France 121,867 with a 6% rise, No. 8 Italy 110,644 with a 19% decline, No. 9 Hong Kong don 71,225 at 6% and No. 10 Brazil 57% lower at 57,049.

Among nations reporting more than 100 deaths with big increases in the past week: No. 9 Australia 373 at 17% and Guatemala 10% at 111.

The United States had the second-most fatalities in the past week with 1,745 but a 39% decrease, followed by No. 3 Russia 638 with a 2% rise, No. 4 Germany 537 with 18% fewer, No. 5 Brazil 492 with 44% decrease, No. 6 Britain 448 with 27% decline, No. 8 Italy 373 with 25% drop, No. 10 Philippines 326 with 7% lower.

Russia is fourth overall in deaths at 385,348, including 86 Sunday and was last above 100 on May 1 with 110.

In the top 10 for deaths, Mexico is fifth with 329,761 including 3 Sunday, Peru sixth with 216,125 and 39 Sunday, Britain seventh with 188,026 with no data on weekends, Italy eighth with 176,175 including 34 Sunday, Indonesia ninth with 157,770 including 13 Sunday and France 10th with 154,468 with no change Sunday.

In the top 10 for cases, France is third with 34,718,132 including 16,422 Sunday, Germany is fifth with 32,452,250, Britain sixth with 23,554,519, Italy eighth with 22,035,717 including 15,563 Sunday, Russia 10th with 20,013,781 including 53,486 Sunday.

In all, more than 12.6 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 3.5 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.

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.

Last week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that the rollout of vaccine shots targeting the dominant Omicron variant later this month. The country is importing 30 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, though they will face final regulatory approval.

Japan also later this month will relax other restrictions, including a daily cap on overseas arrivals. Most recently the daily entry cap was raised to 50,000 from 20,000 and inbound tourists were allowed to travel on tours without a guide.

Most other countries have restrictions on the number of foreign tourists allowed to enter the country.

In the first peak, cases in Japan 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.

Japan has 337 deaths per million, which is 146th in the nation, with the world at 835 and Peru No. 1 at 6,415.

In cases, Japan’s rate is 159,112 per million in 196th place with the world 78,694 and Austria the highest among large countries at 545,853 with Portugal 536,553 and Denmark 550,782. Japan’s population is 125 million.

South Korea’s cases are at two-month lows amid the Chuseok holiday, or the Korean fall harvest celebration, which started Friday and runs through Monday. This is the first holiday weekend without social distancing restrictions during the pandemic.

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 290 cases with 5,659 on April 29. Those are confirmed cases with illness. Asymptomatic ones are reported separately in Mainland China.

Last week, Chengdu, a metropolitan area of 21 million extended its lockdown, which has been in effect since Sept. 1.

Shanghai, the largest metro area at 26.32 million people, earlier ended a two-month lockdown that was in place since the spring.

Both cities are major production hubs for Apple.

Since late August, more than 70 cities have been placed under full or partial COVID-19 lockdowns, affecting more than 300 million people, according to a CNN tally.

The BA.5 Omicron strain has become the most dominant in the world, accounting for 88.7% 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 17.25% of counties, districts and territories with a “high” category level, compared with 43.1% “medium” and 43.1% “low.” In “high” locations, masks are urged indoors.

New hospitalizations in the U.S. from Aug. 31 to Tuesday were 5,163, which is a 10.5% weekly drop. A total of 5,267,624 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since its inception. The U.S. total reported Sunday was 33,614, which is 4.81% 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 reported the U.S. adult one-shot vaccination rate was 90.2% with full vaccination at 77.4% and one booster at 51.7%. The full population rates are 79.2% for one shot, 67.6% for two, 48.6% for three, 34.3% for four with only those 50 and older allowed to get the second booster.

Like Japan, the United States is rolling out the booster to target Omicron.

“This week, we begin a new phase in our COVID-19 response. We are launching a new vaccine — our first in almost two years — with a new approach. For most Americans, that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday.

On Tuesday, India’s drug regulator authorized the country’s first nasal spray vaccine in restricted use for older than 18. Other vaccines are injected by needles.

The nasal vaccine was developed by Indian vaccine firm Bharat Biotech in partnership with Washington University in St. Louis.

Regulators in China also have approved a COVID-19 vaccine booster nasal spray by CanSino, a Chinese company.

Also Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, suggested a change in the nation’s response plan.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that, looking forward with the COVID-19 pandemic, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, we likely are moving toward a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine, with annual updated COVID-19 shots matched to the currently circulating strains for most of the population,” said Fauci, who also heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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