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Five countries where Covid-19 cases are dipping and the reasons why

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases: In an analysis of the top 20 worst-affected countries, the US, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are witnessing a strong decrease in caseload

Written by Abhishek De | New Delhi | Updated: August 29, 2020 4:42:09 pm
Students return to Greenbrae Elementary School in Nevada for the first time since March with mandatory masks and social distancing to help guard against the spread of the coronavirus (AP)

A look at the present global Covid-19 trajectory shows that a handful of countries that had reported some of the worst outbreaks in June and July have started witnessing a persistent and steady decline in caseload even as some European nations like Spain, Italy and France are seeing a resurgence in cases.

Even countries like the United States (US) and Russia, which witnessed a sudden and steep rise in infection rates and deaths initially, appear to be on the path to flatten the curve. However, experts have cautioned that the drop in reported cases could be simply due to the recent drop in testing volume.

Most of the countries with the biggest decreases per million people have enforced mandatory wearing of masks or have reversed reopening policies and shut down bars, gyms and theaters as and when cases have spiked.

In an analysis of the top 20 worst-affected countries, the US, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are witnessing a strong decrease in caseload, data by worldometers.info shows. For comparison, we have calculated the seven-day moving average of new infections from July first week till August 22. This approach helps prevent major events, such as reporting irregularities, from skewing the data.

These are the countries seeing decrease in Covid-19 cases:

The United States

Following a surge of Covid-19 cases in June and July, the daily average number of new coronavirus cases reported in the US has been declining for weeks now, data shows. From a peak average of 68,634 cases on July 22, cases over the past week averaged about 43,847. However, the US remains the worst affected country, with nearly 6 million cases and over 178,000 deaths.

Though daily rise in cases have dropped in recent weeks, the country’s seven-day average for daily Covid-19 deaths has been above 1,000 for 24 straight days as of August 19, after seven weeks of below 1,000.

Decreased hospitalisations and a lower share of positive tests are what led to the slowing of the spread of the infection, an NYT report said. Moreover, re-imposing restrictions in southern and western states of Texas, Florida, Arizona and California, which had driven the spike in overall cases, also aided in containing the spread.

For example, in Florida, statewide bar closures and local mask mandates helped reverse the trend. Arizona and New Orleans closed bars, gyms and theatres after they started reopening in May while Hawaii tightened restrictions on gatherings — both indoors and outdoors — in an effort to control a surge of cases.

South Africa

South Africa, which has the world’s fifth-highest number of infections, has seen its average daily cases of coronavirus falling from the first week of August. From a peak average of 12,341 cases on July 15, cases over the past week averaged about 3,342. Africa has recorded more than 1.16 million cases, more than half of which are in South Africa.

The tourist center of Cape Town, one of the first cities to experience a peak, saw new infections and hospitalisations decreasing in July. Similarly, Johannesburg and Pretoria, which saw daily cases touching 6,000 daily in June, is now witnessing declining numbers.

According to Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize, the government has been able to arrest the rapid spread of infections in poor, overcrowded urban centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg. From August, the country has eased regulations to permit the opening of bars, restaurants, gyms, and places of worship, all limited to no more than 50 people. Schools have also reopened from this week.

Russia

For the first time since mid-May, the average daily cases of coronavirus in Russia has gone below the 5000-mark in the week ending August 22. While the daily average number of new coronavirus cases has been above the 6,500 mark for most of July, cases have not risen above 5,300 in August so far.

According to Russian media, a high rate of testing has allowed authorities to identify and isolate more people with the virus, helping to prevent it from spreading to those at risk. At 238,448 tests per million, Russia tops the list. Besides, the government also set up an internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation and guidelines.

Pakistan

Pakistan witnessed a sudden spike in infections and deaths in June, but confirmed cases have gradually declined since then. Its average daily cases hovered between 580-620 in August, down from more than 5,000 cases it reported daily in May and June.

The reason behind arresting the rise in Covid-19 cases lies in the country’s increased testing capacity in a very short period and setting up a sophisticated tracking system, which included over 10,000 contract workers and more than 3,000 contact tracing teams on the ground. Besides, strict lockdowns in hotspots and hefty fines for violations also played a role.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Arab countries (3,09,000), has seen the number of infections steadily decreasing. The daily average number of new coronavirus cases is down to 1,200 as of August 22 from over 3,700 the country reported in July.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has reasoned that community awareness and public commitment to precautionary measures were the main drivers behind the decreasing cases. Moreover, communicating to the public seamlessly on
instructions and awareness tips for visiting mosques, funerals, tourist sites, domestic and international flights, factories, trains have also curbed the spread of the infection.

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