Global COVID-19 cases top 131 million
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the globe surpassed 131 million on Monday, as an array of countries confronted fresh surges in contagion at the beginning of this month, despite continued efforts to tighten restrictions and administer vaccines.
The global death toll from the pandemic has also hit over 2.8 million, among which nearly 555,000 fatalities occurred in the United States, which also registered the most cumulative cases of over 30 million. Brazil follows with the second highest cases and deaths.
"Much of America's recent progress against COVID-19 has been erased as new infections jump nationwide," CNN said in a report last week, adding that the troubling B.1.1.7 variant strain is spreading more rapidly in the country, which health experts said is more infectious and deadlier.Also worsening the situation are "young, carefree revelers" and the fact that many states discarded safety restrictions, CNN quoted Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying.
Battling against a new wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by more transmissible variants, European countries are facing the unprecedented challenge of balancing disease control and public life with economic reopening.
Over the past week, many European countries, embracing a possible worst third wave of COVID-19, have tightened their lockdown measures in an attempt to build a "breakwater" ahead of the Easter holidays.
A total of 27 countries in the region have been in partial or full nationwide lockdown, with 21 of them imposing nighttime curfews, the World Health Organization's (WHO's) European Region Office said last week. In France, one of the worst-hit countries in the region, the accumulative COVID-19 cases reached 4,822,470 as of Sunday.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the country rose by 470 in a single day to a total of 29,356, showed the latest health authorities data.
The country entered its third national lockdown on Saturday as shops deemed non-essential have to close, people's movement is limited to a radius of 10 kilometers from home while nurseries and schools will be closed for three to four weeks. Another 2,297 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,359,388, according to official figures released on Sunday.
The country also reported another 10 coronavirus-related deaths, raising its total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 126,836.More than 31.5 million people have been given the first jab of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the official figures. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to unveil his plan on Monday for trials of vaccine certificates as the country edges toward normality.
While many countries enforced stricter rules over Easter to prevent a surge in COVID-19 infections, a prevailing fatigue among the general public about months of restrictions has made compliance increasingly difficult, especially as the weather warms up.
In Brussels, the capital of Belgium, some 2,000 party-goers turned up on Thursday in the Bois de la Cambre, one of the city's biggest public parks, after a fake April Fool's Day festival event was advertised on social media.Police tried to disperse the crowds with water cannons and clashed with the revelers attending the unauthorized event despite COVID-19 restrictions.
Africa, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 4,261,645 as of Sunday, said the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).The death toll from the pandemic stood at 113,598, while 3,806,287 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.
South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt are among the African countries with the most cases in the continent. African countries have so far received over 29.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from different sources, including the COVAX facility and through bilateral agreements outside the COVAX facility, according to the Africa CDC.
The Africa CDC said some 10.3 million doses have been administered and the majority of those being vaccinated include healthcare workers, people with comorbidities, and the elderly aged 50 and above.
In the Middle East, Iranian Minister of Industry, Trade, and Commerce Ali Reza Razm-Hosseini was infected with COVID-19 on Sunday as the country registered a daily increase of 11,680 cases, sparking the fear of the advent of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the fourth wave of COVID-19 resurgence has been registered in two provinces. "If people in other provinces do not honor (health guidelines), they may experience the fourth wave as well," the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Rouhani as saying.
Meanwhile, Israel's Ministry of Health reported 140 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 834,210. The death toll from the virus rose by seven to 6,243, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 351 to 344, out of the 513 hospitalized patients.
The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel surpassed 5.26 million, or 56.6 percent of its total population, after the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.
At present, 269 candidate vaccines are being developed worldwide -- 85 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the WHO on Friday.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Professor Dominic Dwyer from University of Sydney stressed that origin tracing of the coronavirus needs to be done in not only China but other parts of the world.
The professor, also a member of the WHO expert team to China, said that further studies are needed to continue to investigate the animal origins, or potential animal origins of the raging virus.