Dec. 13 (UPI) — Italy has been dealing with a second wave of coronavirus deaths and cases that have been far worse than when the nation was the world epicenter in the spring.
On Saturday, Italy moved past Britain into fifth place for most fatalities from the pandemic.
Italy, which at one time led the world in fatalities has risen to has 64,520 deaths, as well as 1,843,712 cases in seventh place.
Worldwide so far Sunday, there are 1,616,181 deaths and 72,412,635 cases. Cases have been growing 1 million every two days, including a record 704,570 Friday, with deaths hitting a daily record of 12,918, both Thursday and Friday.
The United States for the past few months has been the worldwide leader, passing 16 million cases Saturday and nearing 300,000 deaths Sunday.
On Dec. 3, Italy set the daily record for most deaths, 993, surpassing the mark of 921 on March 27. And cases reached a high of 40,896 on Nov. 13. At its peak in the spring, the most cases were 6,554 on March 21. It wasn’t until Oct. 6 the first 10,000 cases were reached.
Cases have subsided in Italy with 17,938 Sunday.
But deaths continue to mount and more than 4,500 people died in the past week, including 484 Sunday.
Despite the spike, most Italian regions starting Sunday are classified as yellow zones with fewer restrictions in an announcement by the press ministry Friday. Remaining in the Orange zone are Tuscany, Campania and Valle D’Aosta. The region of Abruzzo, which was the last red zones, will become orange by Italy’s health ministry though the regional government had proclaimed itself an orange zone via a local ordinance.
In yellow zones, bars and restaurants may reopen until 6 p.m. and Christmas travel restrictions, which were announced earlier this month, will apply across the country regardless of zone.
Italy is among five European nations in the top 10 for most deaths.
Britain reported 144 deaths Sunday one day after 519, behind the record 1,166 on April 21, as well 18,447 cases after a record 33,470 on Nov. 12.
France is seventh, adding 194 deaths Saturday for a total of 57,761 after 932 on Nov. 13 that was the most since a record of 1,437 in April, as well as 13,947 cases after a record 86,852 on Oct. 31.
No. 9 Spain reported no data over the weekend after 280 deaths and 7,053 cases Friday.
No. 10 Russia announced 488 deaths Sunday after a record 613 two days earlier, as well as 28,080 cases six days after record 29,039 and fourth overall with 2,653,928.
Also in the top 20 are Poland in 15th with 22,864, No. 16 Germany with 22,171 and No. 18 Belgium with 17,902.
On Sunday, Poland added 188 deaths one day after 502 and a high of 674 on Nov. 25. Germany reported no data Sunday after 351 deaths Saturday and a record 622 Tuesday, with the highest early in the pandemic 333 in April. Cases were 21,816 one day after record 28,344. Belgium added 110 deaths Sunday.
Europe has the most deaths of the continents, 456,950, cases at 19,798,865 though North America and Asia also have 19 million-plus cases.
On Saturday, Europe added 4,334 deaths and 200,971 cases. Sunday’s figures so far were 2,639 fatalities and 147,692 infections.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her nation will go into a hard lockdown over the Christmas period. That means non-essential shops will close across the country from Wednesday, as will schools. Merkel blamed the spikes on Christmas shopping with a “considerable” rise in social contacts. And companies are being urged to allow employees to work from home.
The nation entered a partial lockdown on Nov. 2 and 16 federal states and it was extended later in the month.
Last week Britain became the first nation in the world to approve a vaccine by Pfizer. And inoculations began last Tuesday.
Britain’s lockdown ended late last month but most of the country remains under tough restrictions.
France’s lockdown is due to end Tuesday but bars and restaurants will remain closed through Jan. 20 and a curfew is in place, including on New Year’s Eve. In addition, museums, cinemas, theaters and sports venues will remain closed for three more weeks.
“We aren’t yet at the end of this second wave, and we won’t reach the objectives we had set for 15 December,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a news conference last week. “We can’t let down our guard. We have to stay focused, and find our way through the next few weeks with lots of vigilance.”
Spain’s regional authorities have the power to restrict movement but don’t allow a full lockdown.
In Asia, Korea and Japan have been experiencing record cases but at a lower number than other nations worldwide.
On Saturday, Japan had a record 3,030, including the most ever in the capital Tokyo, 621, the country’s Ministry of Health said Sunday.
In all, Japan has now recorded 177,999 cases and 2,575 deaths, including 28 Saturday.
On Friday in Japan, three sub-levels were created including areas classified as seeing a spread of the virus and areas where infections are running high.
Shigeru Omi, who leads the government’s coronavirus panel, has requested restaurants that serve alcohol to further shorten business hours.
South Korea reported a record 1,030 new cases Sunday, including 780 more infections in the Seoul Metropolitan area.
South Korea has now reported 42,766 cases and 580 deaths, including two most recently.
President Moon Jae-in said Sunday the current surge is the “the worst crisis” since South Korea saw its first COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is a desperate time when [the government] should make all-out efforts to stave off the spread of the coronavirus by concentrating all virus control capabilities and administrative power,” Moon said in an emergency anti-coronavirus meeting, which he presided over for the first time in about 10 months.
“If we can’t stop the spread of the virus, we have to consider raising the social distancing scheme to Level 3.”
Moon said the government will add testing centers and add hospitals and treatment centers.
Mainland China is the original epicenter but hasn’t reported a death since April 26 and has dropped to 40th place with 4,634, behind Portugal with 5,467. It added 24 cases Sunday.
Two Asian nations are in the top 10 for most deaths.
India is third in deaths behind the U.S. and Brazil with 143,019, including 391 Sunday, which was the third time it was under 400 since July and national-record 1,299 months ago. India has the second-most cases in the world with 9,857,039 including 30,254 Sunday and a daily record 97,894 in September.
But India’s ministry noted the nation has one of the lowest cases per million population in the last seven days. India’s per million caseload per million is 158 cases compared with the United States at 4,310 and Britain at 1,753.
Iran is in eighth place for most deaths at 52,196, including 247 Sunday after a record 486 on Nov. 16 and 7,541 cases after a record 14,051 on Nov. 27.
Asia has the second-most cases with 19,083,266 as well as 312,215 deaths, which is fourth among the continents.
South America has the third-most deaths, 339,466, and fourth-most cases, 11,937,168.
The continent has five spots in the top 20 for most deaths: Brazil in second with 181,143, Argentina in 11th with 40,668, Colombia in 12th with 38,866, Peru in 13th with 36,609, Chile in 20th with 15,886.
Brazil surpassed 50,000 cases three times last week. Between mid-August and late November, it hadn’t exceeded that figure. The high was 70,869 on July 29. Deaths are lower than the record of 1,554 on July 29, including 690 Saturday.
“We reopened when the number of infections was still rising,” Clarisse Bressan, a tropical medicine specialist told The Guardian. “It was bonkers, insane.”
She noted there hasn’t been a second wave but instead likening it to a relentless tidal bore that continued powering forward.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus himself, has been playing down the dangers of a disease that he calls “a little flu.”
“People are misinformed and alienated,” Bressan said. “People think there are treatments, that if they take [anti-parasite drug] Ivermectin it’ll all be OK – so much nonsense … Information has to come from the top.”
In North America, Mexico is in fourth place for deaths at 113,704 and 13th in cases at 1,241,436, including 12,057 Saturday, one day after a record 12,253. The nation reported 685 deaths Saturday compared with a high of 1,092 on June 4.
Mexico, the United States and Canada have extended their travel ban through Dec. 21. All but around 18,000 of the total 450,256 deaths in North America are in those three nations. The total number of cases: 19,155,819.
Canada ranks 23rd in the world for deaths at 13,350, including 99 Sunday. On Thursday there were 142 fatalities, which is the most since a record 222 on May 31. The cases are 454,852, including 6,011 additional ones, five days after a record 7,872. Between May 26 and Aug. 30 cases were never more than 1,000.
Canada became the second nation in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine, and the nation’s first doses shipped out Friday from a factory in Belgium.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted Wednesday on Twitter that up to 249,000 doses are coming this month, with “millions more in the new year.”
Oceania, with only 42.3 million people, has 1,034 deaths and 46,571 cases.
New Zealand’s deaths have remained at 25 since Sept. 16 and Australia’s toll has remained at 908 since Nov. 30.
New Zealand reported four cases Sunday, tallying 18 in one week, for a total of of 2,096 and Australia was up five Sunday for 28,030, an increase of 135 in seven days.
Melbourne’s second lockdown began in July and ended last month.
In Africa, there have been 56,161 and cases at 2,381,438 cases.
South Africa leads the continent with 23,106 deaths, which is 14th in the world, including 154 Saturday followed by Egypt at 6,898 with 21. South Africa has the 16th-most cases in the world at 852,965, including 7,882 more Saturday, the most since 8,307 on Aug. 6.
“It is important for us to recognize that this now is a second wave,” South Africa’s health minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement. “There is going to be exponential growth. This means we must expect faster-rising numbers with a higher peak, possibly, than the first wave.”