Pandemic total passes 21 million cases

The global COVID-19 total today topped 21 million cases, mainly led by a steady surge of cases from the Americas and India.

Pandemic cases today reached 21,020,216, with 761,393 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

Still many hot spots in Americas region

In the Americas yesterday, Brazil reported 60,091 cases, followed by the United States, with 51,443. Colombia also added 11,286 to its total yesterday.

Peru—in topping 500,000 cases—reported 8,875 new cases and now has Latin America's highest fatality rate, Reuters reported. So far, the country has reported 25,648 deaths, for a 5.0% case-fatality rate, which is higher than neighboring Chile and Brazil.

At an event to honor 120 healthcare workers who have died from their infections, Peru's President Martin Vizcarra said that crowds at social and sporting events and people letting down their guard have caused a spike in COVID-19 activity, much of it involving children and adolescents.

Earlier this week the country tightened restrictions, including a ban on family gatherings.

India's surge spreads

For the third day in a row, India's cases topped 60,000 cases, Reuters reported. As the world's third hardest hit country, India has seen no letup in cases, amid reports that the virus is spreading from main cities to less populated areas.

An outbreak at a Kashmir jail sickened more than 100 prisoners, and cases in the region are stressing the health system.

In another development, several members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have tested positive for the virus over the past few days, Bloomberg News reported.

More cases in New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam

As global health officials track the main COVID-19 hot spots, they are also closely watching what happens in countries that have controlled the virus but are seeing expected new flare-ups as restrictions ease.

In New Zealand, which reported its first local cases this week after 102 days without any, the health ministry reported 12 more cases linked to the Auckland cluster, plus an additional suspected case, putting the total at 29. So far, the source hasn't been identified, but yesterday, a health official said suspicion has shifted to a possible quarantine breach.

All of the new cases are linked to the cluster except for one, which may be linked but still requires confirmation. Some of the cases involve children, and health officials are tracing contacts at three schools and one preschool.

New Zealand's President Jacinda Ardern said genetic sequencing shows that the outbreak strain is different than the one involved in the country's initial spread, suggesting a new introduction, Reuters reported. She extended the lockdown for Auckland, where the new cluster was first detected, for another 12 days.

In Australia, health officials reported 372 new cases, up by nearly 100 from the previous day, but well below the Aug 5 peak of 725 cases, Reuters reported. Most are in Victoria state, where a flare-up in around Melbourne triggered a lockdown.

In another development detailed by Reuters, investigators who probed an outbreak on the Ruby Princess cruise ship released their report today, which said health officials in New South Wales made "unjustifiable" and "inexcusable" mistakes when they allowed passengers who were sick with COVID-19 to disembark in central Sydney in March, fueling further spread of the virus. More than 600 cases, 20 of them fatal, were linked to the Ruby Princess outbreak.

Meanwhile, Vietnam, which is experiencing a flare-up that began at the end of July in Danang, reported six more cases today, VN Express reported today. The cases are in three provinces: Hai Duong, Thai Binh, and Quang Nam. Since the latest outbreak began, 444 cases have been reported in 15 cities and provinces, 310 of them in Danang.

In another development, Vietnam said it was in line to buy Russia's COVID-19 vaccine, though it is also developing its own and has said it would buy vaccine from the United Kingdom.

In other global COVID-19 developments:

  • In Europe, Spain tightened some restrictions, such as banning public drinking and closing clubs, following a steady rise in cases, Norway urged Oslo residents to wear facemasks while riding public transport, and the United Kingdom signed vaccine deals with Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, boosting its secured doses to 340 million from six vaccine deals. In another development, Italy is allowing some cruise ships to resume operations in the coming week with new safety protocols in place.

  • North Korea lifted the 3-week lockdown in the city of Kaesong, where a suspected case was detected, though the country hasn't said if the case was confirmed.

  • Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will ease their second round of lockdowns, which were triggered by rises in cases following the lifting of earlier measures.

  • The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on young adults ages 18 to 29 who are in college or are starting their careers, according to a survey from the International Labor Organization. Also, about 65% said transitions to distance learning have disrupted their learning, with only 18% of those in low-income countries able to continue learning online owing to a lack of equipment or Internet access.

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