Original epicenters’ death toll plunge; world toll nears 250,000

May 3 (UPI) — The coronavirus death toll in the original epicenters in the world, including China, Italy and Washington state, have subsided tremendously as hotspots emerge elsewhere and the fatalities neared 250,000.

For the sixth day in a row Sunday, no deaths have been reported in mainland China. In Italy, the new deaths announced Sunday were 174 compared with a high of 900 in March. Washington state reported only four more deaths Saturday for a total of 836 after the first fatality was reported on Feb. 26. And deaths are under 300 in New York after a high of nearly 800 and almost 25,000 in all.

But Brazil has become a new hotspot with more than 2,200 deaths over five days. And cases have been mounting in Russia and Turkey.

In all, nearly 3.5 million cases have been reported, according to tracking by worldometers.info.

Since the first deaths in early January, China had been the original epicenter of the outbreak. The daily death toll peaked at 150 on Feb. 23, and for the for the first time on April 7 no deaths were reported. However, on April 17, officials in Wuhan, where the virus was first reported late last year, added 1,290 coronavirus deaths to the city’s toll that were previously uncounted.

The number now stands at 4,633 in 11th place in the world.

The last time there were double-digit deaths was March 17 with 11.

China’s National Health Commission reported two new cases — one imported from abroad and the other locally transmitted in Shanxi province. In addition, only 531 active cases remain.

And life is beginning to return to normal for Hubei, which was the first place to go on lockdown. In addition, two hospitals were built in 12 days.

Restrictions have been eased and tourist favorites, including Beijing’s Forbidden City, are reopening. Daily visitor caps and health checks remain. More than 1 million people went to Shanghai’s attractions over the Labor Day weekend.

Elsewhere in Asia, the pandemic has subsided. On Saturday, 378 more deaths were reported for a total of 1,9,339. India recorded the most new deaths with 100 for a total of 1,323, followed by Turkey with 78 at 3,336 as well as 3,336 cases, and Iran 65 at 6,156, ninth highest in the world.

In the Far East, Indonesia had the most for a total of 831.

Like China, South Korea again reported no deaths as well as 13 new cases Sunday. The totals are 10,793 cases and 250 deaths. The nation, which instituted massive testing, will relax social distancing rules beginning Wednesday, South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Sunday. They had been in place since March 22.

Buildings will reopen gradually with local governments allowed to enact their own rules.

Elsewhere in the Far East, Japan reported 19 new deaths for a total of 474 and 266 additional case.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said said he likely will extend the national state of emergency past Wednesday to June. He said a decision is likely Monday. A total of 13 prefectures are under “special alert” and 34 don’t have those orders.

Seven of the nations with the most deaths are in Europe. In all 139,410 have died from the disease there.

On Saturday, the leaders of France, Norway, Italy and Germany pledged to raise $8 billion in an “international alliance” to find a vaccine and treatments for the coronavirus.

This decision supports commitments made by G20 leaders and backs a call from the World Health Organization.

“For this reason, we have recently launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global cooperation platform to accelerate and scale-up research, development, access and equitable distribution of the vaccine and other life-saving therapeutics and diagnostics treatments,” a news release said. “We are determined.”

Italy, which at one time was an epicenter of the virus, now is second behind the United States, dropping below 200 for the first time since 175 on March 14 after gaining 474 deaths Saturday and 269 more Friday. The high was 919 on March 27.

Italy, which has had Europe’s longest lockdown since March, will enter phase two of its plan to reopen on Monday. Italians will now be able to travel within regions to visit relatives but schools, salons, gyms and many other commercial activities will stay closed. Cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only; and all travel between regions will be banned except for work, health or emergency situations.

No. 4 Spain announced 164 deaths Sunday — the lowest in six weeks — after 276 deaths Saturday and a high of 961 on April 2.

“As sad as it is to speak about the deaths, the increase of 0.7 percent from the previous day is a good number” said Fernando Simón, Spain’s director for health emergencies.

A lockdown has been in place since March 15, but four islands in the Canaries and the Balearics will be the first to begin phase one of their reopening procedures on Monday. The islands “have not had any new cases in many days.

France reported 166 deaths Saturday after 218 Friday for fifth place and a high of 1,438 on April 15.

Three other European nations in the top 10 reported a double-digit increase in deaths. No. 5 Belgium added 79 more for a total of 7,844, No. 6 Germany announced 76 more Saturday for a total 6,812 and No. 7 Netherlands had 69 more to total 5,056 Sunday.

The situation is much different in Britain with 621 more deaths Saturday — second in the world — though it is down from 739 Friday and a high of 1,172 last week. Britain is third in the world in total deaths at 28,131. Originally only hospital deaths were reported until last week when 4,419 deaths in care homes were included.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “contingency plans” were made for his death while he was hospitalized with coronavirus. He said it was “50-50” whether he would be put on a ventilator.

“That was when it got a bit…  they were starting to think about how to handle it presentationally,” he said in an interview with The Sun on Sunday. “It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it.”

The situation is worsening in Russia with 10,633 more cases announced Sunday for a total of 134,786 in seventh place. The nation also announced 58 more details to total 1,280, which is in 20th place.

The pandemic also has not stabilized in Brazil.

The death toll continues to surge there, recording 2,207 deaths over five days – 340 Saturday, 509 Friday, 390 Thursday, 520 Wednesday and 448 Tuesday — for eighth place at 6,410.

Brazil has nearly half the 763 new deaths in South America, which totaled 763 Saturday, and two-thirds overall,10,243. Ecuador announced 308 more for a total of 1,371.

Conversely, the situation has stabilized in Oceana. Australia has only 95 deaths, including two more Sunday, and New Zealand added no deaths to its 20 total.

Although only 20 new cases were reported in Australia, residents are urged to stay away from senior care facilities.

“You have to be perfectly well to walk into the door of an aged care facility, that’s my message,” Brendan Murphy, the nation’s chief medical officer, said Sunday.

He said, “there are still small outbreaks detected in Victoria and New South Wales, there is still evidence of some low-level community transmission.”

In Africa, the death toll is 1,763, led by Algeria with 459 and followed by Egypt with 415.

In North America, all but around 6,000 of the roughly 73,000 deaths are in the United States.

On Saturday, Canada reported 175 additional deaths for a total of 3,566 and Mexico announced 113 more to total 1,972.

A “Come 2 Cancun” campaign has been announced to attract visitors with two-for-one hotel stays. More than 150 hoteliers support the digital campaign, which is scheduled to be ready by May 15.

“We think that a ‘Covid-free’ certificate should be created so that the entire state, the entire tourism industry of the state, restaurants, ecotourism parks, discos, marinas, casinos can be launched on June 1 as a ‘Covid-Free destination,” Roberto Cintrón Gómez of the Hotel Association of Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres said in a report by the Mexican Daily News.

In the Benito Juarez municipality where Cancun is located, there have been 619 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 82 deaths.

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