Welcome to the COVID News Digest for Thursday, March 24, 2022. Hop on in and take a seat for a trip around the world of COVID. Go there and back again for the small price of a very long thread.

This diary will be a bit different than its predecessors. Instead of analyzing headlines and sharing stories, I am going to share what is happening in each region of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight one nation in that region as an example of the trends of that region. I have extensively covered what is happening in the United States, Australia/New Zealand, the European Union, and Canada, so I am skipping those regions! Here is what is going on in the rest of the world!

Asia

CHINA

China is first, and it is going by itself. China is still struggling to contain the COVID outbreak caused by omicron. Cases have still been substantial day after day with no end in sight. They are still hovering around their peak in what is the largest outbreak there since the initial outbreak.

ChinaCasesMarch22.png
China is clearly in an outbreak that is testing them right now!

China Headlines: 

Frustrations Mount as China Replays COVID Controls

Shanghai Cases Climb to 5th Straight Daily Record

City of Shenyang Latest to Join Chinese Lockdowns

Dozens of Chinese Officials Punished Over Latest COVID Surge

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East Asia

South Korea, Vietnam, and Hong Kong are recovering from the last wave of infections that were the most severe in the entire course of the pandemic. It is still touch and go in each of these nations with high daily case counts, but they have definitely peaked, as the graph for South Korea shows. Japan is currently still coming down off their previous Omicron wave.

SouthKoreaCasesMarch22.png
South Korea just peaked in cases. It’s still touch and go in the region.

East Asia Headlines:

Telemedicine Booms in South Korea Amid COVID

Hong Kong Revamping COVID Rules Once Again

Japan Has Weathered COVID Better than Most, but Problems Persist

Vietnam Reporting Decreases in Cases Over Past Week

UN Urges North Korea to Open Up for Aid and Food

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ASEAN (Southeast Asia)

It appears that the omicron wave that had battered Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia over the last month is slowly subsiding. Indonesia in particular has seen cases plummet in recent days as the graph shows. Many of these nations have seen much greater poverty due to the pandemic shutting down vital aid.

IndonesiaCasesMarch22.png
Indonesia is clearly near the bottoming out of active cases right now.

ASEAN Headlines:

Indonesia Ends All Quarantine Requirements for Travelers

Cambodia Receives Aid and Vaccine Supplies from Japan

Singapore Crosses 1 Million Cases Amidst Outbreak

Malaysia to Reopen Borders After Covid-19 Surge Hits Nation

Thailand Offers Vaccine Tourism to Boost International Travel


South Asia

All the nations (other than Bhutan) are at historical lows for cases right now. Sri Lanka is still lagging after the previous omicron induced wave, but even there cases are trending down. The waves (except this last one) appear to coincide with the monsoon season in the Indian subcontinent, which makes sense as to why they have a lull in cases right now. India is a perfect case in point below.

IndiaCasesMarch22.png
Not monsoon in India, thus no COVID. Simple timing for the region!

South Asia Headlines:

India Monsoon Implicated in COVID Pattern of Cases

India Further Removes All Travel Restrictions and PPE Requirements

Pakistan Only Adds 228 New Cases Today in Large Population

Bangladesh Not Logging Any COVID Deaths Recently


Middle East

The region is clearly at a bottom from the omicron wave of infections. County after country has a huge spike about mid February and then a sharp decline since then. Saudi Arabia seems to have record low levels, while Turkey and Iran lag in deaths as cases are still somewhat higher than the rest of the region. Israel has hit bottom, and is looking at cases starting to pick up again.

MiddleEastCasesMarch22.png
The four powers of the Middle East have similar trajectories. 

Middle East Headlines:

Israel: Start of New Wave Leaves Officials “Not Optimistic

Iran: New Covid Cases Keep Dropping Daily

Saudi Arabia: Lifting Most Travel Restrictions Amidst Record Low Cases

Turkey: Cases Dropping All Over Country; Deaths Lagging

Dubai: Covid Cases Low Amidst World Expo Dubai


Africa

South African Region

This region is where omicron is suspected to have started in the first place, so it isn’t news that the pandemic is extremely inactive now in this region of the continent. The nation of South Africa, likely the one doing the most testing, has shown that COVID has returned to background levels after a scary spike that announced omicron to the world. Countries nearby have a similar pattern.

SouthAfricaCasesMarch22.png
South Africa seems to be at the bottom once again after omicron.

South African Headlines:

South Africa: Restrictions Being Eased in Order to Help the Economy

Zimbabwe: Cases Are Plunging and So Are Deaths

Madagascar: Avoid ‘Very High Risk’ Region of the World Right Now

Namibia: An End to Masking and PCR Testing for All Citizens


Central African Region

Much like southern Africa, the heart of the continent had a serious spike when omicron was first discovered and then that wave has since dissipated. Due to ongoing conflicts, it is extremely difficult to gauge what is going on in entire regions of the continent. This area can be opaque at times in particular. The Democratic Republic of the Congo will serve as the model for the region as a whole.

DROCCasesMarch22.png
DROC has a similar profile to the rest of Africa.

Central African Headlines:

DROC: Rallying to Combat Superstition and COVID-19 Rumors

Congo-Brazzaville: WHO Africa’s First Woman Leader Faces Toughest Challenge Ever

WHO Africa: Vaccinations Rose by 15% in Month of February

NBA Player Donates Entire Salary to Build Hospital in DROC


Eastern Africa

This region has bigger problems than COVID-19, with the worst famine in 30 years and intractable wars in the Tigray and Somalia regions of the Horn of Africa. However, what cases do trickle into the counts show the same omicron spike as the rest of Africa at about the same time. Kenya is probably the most stable country in the region right now, so I will use it as the model for the rest.

KenyaCasesMarch22.png
Kenya shows the omicron spike and then a bottoming out like elsewhere.

Eastern African Headlines:

Kenya Plans on Vaccinating 19 Million People by June

500,000+ Have Died in Tigray Region Due to War and Covid Combined

Tanzanian Government Emphasizes Taking Vaccine to Its Citizens

The World Must Not Forget South Sudan

Somalian Refugee Returns to Help With Humanitarian Mission


Western Africa

This region had a HUGE pandemic about a decade ago with Ebola if you can recall. That means that the region has had more recent practice at a mass outbreak than anywhere else on the globe. This could help explain why the region has been doing so well, relatively speaking. Nigeria in particular has handled the pandemic better than its population profile would suggest.

NigeriaCasesMarch22.png
Note only four waves in Nigeria vs. six or more elsewhere!

Western African Headlines:

Nigeria: Time to Scrap PCR Testing for Vaccinated Travelers

Ghana: Government NOT to Blame for COVID Layoffs

Cameroon: Chinese Medical Workers Are Heroes to our Country

Cote D’Ivoire: Cases Down to 1% of Peak of Omicron Wave


Arabic Northern Africa

Despite being of a radically different ethnicity and culture than the rest of Africa, the region of North Africa has closely mirrored the rest of the continent in terms of cases and waves. Right now, the region is at the bottom coming off of the omicron spike. Places like Egypt are starting to show a spike in infection, so it is possible the BA.2 wave could hit North Africa as it diffuses out of Europe.

EgyptCasesMarch22.png
Could the spike today in Egypt be related to BA.2 coming from Europe?

Arabic Northern Africa Headlines:

Egypt Is Posting Weekly Updates Instead of Daily Updates

Algeria: Travel Restrictions Lifted Amidst Drop in Cases

Morocco: Low Number of Cases in Recent Times

Tunisia: You Should Be Proud of Your Pandemic Response


Latin America

Andean Region

The countries of Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador have been amongst the hardest hit per population of the entire globe. They, along with the rest of globe, had a huge omicron spike right around late January. The region has had cases dramatically decline since, and now health resources are able to take a breather. This graph shows how closely the Andean region aligned in cases.

AndesCasesMarch22.png
Andes Region cases have mirrored one another closely. All is quieter.

Andean Region Headlines:

Peru: We’ve Applied Nearly 66 Million Doses to Our People

Colombia: ~500 Cases and ~20 Deaths a Day From Covid-19 Currently

Ecuador: Vaccine Goal Hit, Large Gatherings Allowed Again

Bolivia: 900,000 Total Cases as 200 More Added Each Day


Patagonian Region

Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay have also been devastated by the omicron wave recently. Child still has the highest death rate in South America at present, and Argentina isn’t that far behind. Chile was the last in the region to spike which can account for a lot of it. They still have a high transmission rate currently. It is fascinating to see how the peaks are misaligned in the region. 

PatagoniaCasesMarch22.png
Chile still recovering from the omicron wave which hit it late.

Patagonian Region News:

Chile: ~5,000 Daily Cases is the Lowest in About Two Months

Argentina: Will the Curve Rise Again in the Nation?

Paraguay: 4 Deaths Added to Pandemic Toll Today

Uruguay: Borders Now Open for Vaccinated Foreigners


Amazonian Region

Brazil under the Trump of the South has suffered tremendously from the pandemic. Isolated Venezuela is hard to fathom, but an acute crisis before COVID-19 likely got worse because of it. Suriname and Guyana mirror their larger neighbors in a lot of things COVID wise. This brutal graph shows the many prolonged waves Brazil has been hit by under Bolsonaro. 

BrazilCasesMarch22.png
Brazil had two prolonged waves instead of six short ones like us.

Amazonian Region Headlines:

Brazil: Lowest Number of Cases and Deaths Since January

Brazil: Vaccination Against All Odds in the Amazon

Venezuela: 5,670 Deaths from COVID Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

Brazil: ~44,000 New Cases, ~300 Deaths Reported in Last Day


The Caribbean (CARICOM)

This region is very vulnerable to the pandemic, with small economies and unique needs such as Haiti, Cuba, and the smaller island nations. Cuba was hit by Delta hard, while the whole region suffered when omicron came to town. The graph below features the Dominican Republic and Cuba, two of the larger island nations in CARICOM. Many times small islands have very jagged graphs due to small populations.

DomRepCubaCasesMarch22.png
Omicron spike clearly seen in the Caribbean region.

CARICOM Headlines:

Cuba: 679 Cases and 1 Death Today from COVID-19

One Month Ago: Caribbean Falling Behind in COVID Fight

Haiti is Winning the Fight Against Cholera — Not So Much Against COVID

Puerto Rico Lifted Most Pandemic Restrictions Two Weeks Ago


Central America

Mexico and the Central American countries have weathered many a wave of COVID, and right now they are in recovery from the omicron wave of infections that peaked right around early February. Mexico dominates the region in both cases and deaths, so it is that graph I will post. It would be interesting to compare the timing of Mexico peaks to USA peaks, but I have enough graphs already…

MexicoCasesMarch22.png
Mexico is past its omicron wave!

Central American Headlines:

Mexico: We Will Decree the Pandemic OVER Very Soon

Mexico: We Will Honor Distribution of Russian COVID Vaccine

Costa Rica and Belize Ease Entry Requirements for Foreigners


What ABOUT!?!

I cannot trust what Russia and Ukraine report with the war going on there. I had to stop somewhere!

I talked about some of the Oceania island nations on the News Digest yesterday. Also, this!

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I’ve given enough information on the European Union, Australia/New Zealand, and the USA and Canada that repeating them here is unnecessary. 


Conclusion

If the projected BA.2 wave fizzles out (which looks quite possible) in the United States, it will be a waiting game to see what happens when immunity wanes and if a new variant can take hold over the stranglehold omicron has on the viral genome right now. I’d be afraid to see what a pi (next Greek Letter) variant would entail considering what omicron has done so rapidly. The virus has plenty of evolutionary twists and turns left to it. Those declaring the pandemic over even if BA.2 fizzles out are fools.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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