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Coronavirus cases top 9 million worldwide as daily death toll trends down

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June 21 (UPI) — Nearly half a year after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in mainland China, the pandemic has spread worldwide and surpassed the 9 million-cases milestone on Sunday.

The total stands at 9,044,563, according to tracking by Worldometers.info late Sunday. And about 5.2 percent of them have resulted in deaths: 470,665.

Roughly 0.12 percent of the 7.8 billion people in the world have contracted the disease. And the death toll is 60 per million people.

The outbreak started in China, then spread to Europe, especially Italy, before hitting hard in the United States, where the first death was reported on Feb. 29. The United States leads the world in deaths with more than 122,000 and 2.3 million cases — about one-quarter of the world totals. Seven-tenths of 1 percent of the population have tested positive and 369 per million have died from the virus.

The disease has been stabilizing in many parts of the world — with 4,428 additional deaths Saturday compared with a high of 8,435 on April 17. But COVID-19’s cases and deaths are mounting in Latin America — Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile — as well as India and Russia.

The first cases were confirmed on Dec. 31 in China but health experts believe people were infected with the virus months earlier in the most populous country of 1.5 billion people.

The first death from coronavirus was confirmed on Jan. 11 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. In all, 4,634 people have died from the disease in the Asian nation, though no fatalities have been announced since April 27. And since then, only 522 cases have been added for a total of 83,378, including 26 on Sunday. One week ago, the 57 cases Sunday were the highest since 89.

After a new outbreak was linked to a wholesale food mark in Beijing, which has 20 million people, testing was expanded with more than 360,000 tests over a few days. Since June 11, Beijing has recorded more than 200 locally transmitted infections.

South Korea has largely contained the outbreak with extensive testing and contact tracing, but on Saturday reported 67 new cases, the largest daily jump in about three weeks. On Sunday, there were 48 new cases for a total of 12,373 cases as well as 280 deaths.

In Europe, the virus hit Italy hard — with the first death reported on Feb. 21, peaking to a daily total of 919 on March 27 and topping the global list for weeks after displacing China. The country instituted a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

Although five other European nations would join Italy in the top 10 for most deaths, the fatalities have greatly diminished to a few hundred among all of them — by far the lowest since the pandemic.

Germany, which is no longer in the top 10, reported 1 death on Sunday and is in 11th place in terms of worldwide fatalities. No. 6 Spain also counted only one death while No. 4 Italy announced 24, No. 3 Britain increased by 43 deaths and No. 5 France rose by 7. Not reporting statistics yet Sunday was No. 9 Belgium, which gained 1 death on Saturday.

European nations are easing restrictions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that Britain is “on track” to further ease its nationwide lockdown.

“You can see the direction that we’re going,” Hancock told Sky’s Sophy Ridge. “We set the direction out in the plan that we published last month, and we are clearly on track for that plan because the number of cases is coming down. On Friday the scientists were able to advise that the alert level come down, so we are on plan.”

Britain’s chief medical officers announced Friday that the coronavirus alert level had been lowered from level four — transmission is high or rising — to level three — it is in general circulation.

On June 1, the government began easing lockdown restrictions in England. People can visit outdoor attractions, retail stores and places of worship.

“We will of course be setting out more details of that plan and in the plan, it states that on around July 4, we will take further measures if it is safe to do so,” he said. “The plan does refer to hospitality and some of the other things that are closed that so many people want to see open.”

In France, cafes and restaurants are reopening and people can visit family members in retirement homes, although the residents are especially vulnerable to the outbreak.

European Union residents can now travel to each other’s borders, but international travel won’t be allowed until July.

On June 11, the European Commission recommended all 27 members extend the entry ban on third-country nationals, which was set to expire on June 15, for another 15 days, until June 30.

People generally can fly to Europe, but they will most likely need to observe a 14-day self-quarantine.

In all, 187,626 people have died from the outbreak in Europe but only 239 deaths were announced Sunday.

Russia reported 109 of them and is in 13th place worldwide in fatalities. Cases have been spiking at a great rate — 7,728 more for a total of 584,680 behind the United States and Brazil.

Despite the rising cases, restrictions including compulsory travel passes were lifted on June 8. And a national vote is still scheduled for July 1.

In Asia, 965 more people died with the total death toll standing at 48,256.

India, which is the second-most populous nation with 1.4 billion people, has reported 13,703 deaths in eight place and 426,910,624 cases. That includes 426 deaths Sunday after 307 Saturday. The record was 2,006 on Tuesday but officials report that spike to delayed reporting of data. The cases hit a record 15,915 Saturday and dropped to 15,183 Sunday for a total of 426,910 in fourth place.

The Delhi government ordered all leave canceled and said further leave would only be granted under the most compelling circumstances.

A number of countries continue to evacuate their citizens from India, amid concerns hospitals in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai may be overwhelmed.

Although deaths have increased from 7,2087 two weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told state leaders on Wednesday that they should get ready for the next phase of his “unlock” program.

“The spread has been kept under control,” he said. “Through timely tracing, treatment and reporting, the number of those recovering is rising.”

The outbreak is spiking in three Latin American nations.

Brazil reported the most increases in the world with 968, as Mexico announced 647 late Saturday, Chile 202 and Peru 201.

On Sunday, Brazil reported 601 new deaths for most in the world over the 24-hour period followed by Mexico in third with 387, Chile in fifth with 184 and Peru in sixth, also with 184.

Brazil is second behind the United States with 50,617 deaths, compared with 35,957 two weeks ago. The South American nation reported 641 deaths on Sunday, 968 deaths on Saturday and 1,221 deaths the day before. The record is 1,492 on June 4. Brazil also added 17,459 cases Sunday after 32,627 cases the day prior and 55,209 on Friday — for a total 1,085,038 in second place — almost half as many as No. 1 U.S.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has minimized the calamity of the disease, saying after the first case was reported on Feb. 26: “Brazilians don’t catch anything … they already have the antibodies to keep it from spreading.”

He has bemoaned the economic impact of a lockdown. Sao Paulo, malls and outdoor bazaars reopened for the first time in three months, drawing large crowds

“We’re restarting things too soon,” Atila Iamarino, a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo told Bloomberg News. “It’s a delicate time for the pandemic.”

On Saturday, Chile’s death toll rose by 202 and 184 on Sunday for a total of 4,479 for 19th place. Chile also announced 5,355 more cases on Saturday and 5,607 on Sunday.

Peru has a total of 8,045 in 14th place as well as 3,598 more cases on Sunday. The death toll was 5,301 two weeks ago, including a record 206 on June 11.

In all, 71,491 have died in South America.

Farther north on the hemisphere, Mexico’s deaths have risen from 13,511 to 20,781 in two weeks into seventh place. On Saturday, 5,030 cases were reported. On Sunday, that number dropped slightly to 4,717.

On the other side of the U.S. border, Canada reported 64 deaths on Saturday and 20 on Sunday for 8,430 total in 12th place.

The United States has extended its border with those nations to July.

“Based on the success of the existing restrictions and the emergence of additional global COVID-19 hotspots, the Department will continue to limit non-essential travel at our land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico,” Chad Wolf, the acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, said in a statement Tuesday. “This extension protects Americans while keeping essential trade and travel flowing as we reopen the American economy.”

All but around 2,500 of the 153,944 deaths are in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

In Oceania, there have been 102 deaths in Australia and 22 in New Zealand. The last reported death in Australia was May 23 and in New Zealand, it was May 28.

Since that time, New Zealand has reported only five cases for a total of 1,511. But two were reported Saturday.

Two women who had arrived from Britain on June 6 had been allowed out of managed quarantine early on June 13 a compassionate dispensation to visit a dying parent. They were not tested but were later found to be infected.

The Australian Football League postponed a game Saturday between Essendon and Melbourne because a player who recently returned from Ireland has tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic.

Australia has 7,409 cases.

In Africa, Egypt has reported 2,193 deaths and South Africa 1,930 among the 8,148 fatalities, compared with 5,215 two weeks ago.

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