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US to Europe: Delta variant, first reported in India, spreads rapidly across the world

While vaccination has helped bring down infections, the rise of the Delta variant has led to fears of a new wave of the novel coronavirus that has already killed over 3.9 million people worldwide.

People get screened before entering a park in the US. (AP)

The Delta variant, which caused mayhem in India during the second wave, is now spreading rapidly to several other countries around the world.

Labelled as the “most transmissible variant” by the World Health Organization’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it has been seen spreading fast among unvaccinated populations. “Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far, has been identified in at least 85 countries, and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations,” he said in Geneva on Friday.

While vaccination has helped bring down infections, the rise of the Delta variant has led to fears of a new wave of the novel coronavirus that has already killed over 3.9 million people worldwide.

With countries like Australia and Israel re-imposing strict curbs to curb the spread of the variant, governments have stepped up vigil to stop Delta from becoming the dominant strain in the country.

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A list of countries where Delta variant of Covid-19 is spreading:

United Kingdom: The number of Delta variant cases in the UK has risen by 35,204 since last week to a total of 111,157, representing a 46 per cent increase, health officials said in the weekly report released on Friday.

People queue up at a vaccination centre in London on Friday. (AP Photo)

While the Delta variant now accounts for approximately 95 per cent of cases that are sequenced across the UK, Public Health England said both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine continue to provide good protection against hospitalisations.

“Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations,” said Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency.

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The United States of America: US President Joe Biden has urged all unvaccinated Americans to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus, warning that the Delta variant could lead to more deaths. “The new variants will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they are or were a month ago. This is a serious concern. Especially because of what experts are calling the Delta variant. It’s a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier and particularly dangerous for young people,” Biden said during a White House press conference recently.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky, the Delta variant could soon become the dominant coronavirus strain in the US. But, she stressed that the coronavirus vaccines would protect citizens against the new variant.

Russia: Russia is facing a surge in Covid-19 cases that authorities blame on the highly infectious Delta variant and slow progress in vaccinating people, with deaths linked to the virus hitting a new record in Moscow on Friday.

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Students gather for their graduation ceremony at the Palace Square in St Petersburg on Friday. (AP Photo)

The government coronavirus task force reported 20,393 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the most confirmed in a single day since January 24, including 7,916 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,409,088.

According to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, the highly-transmissible variant was detected in 89.3 per cent of all Covid patients in the Russian capital.

France: Although cases in France have been falling, Delta is causing concern in an area in the south-west of the country. On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex and the country’s health minister visited Les Landes, where the variant accounts for 70 per cent of infections. Across France, it is believed to be behind 10 per cent of cases.

President Emmanuel Macron also expressed his concern over the spread of the variant. “We should all be vigilant because the Delta variant is coming,” he said on Thursday. “We see that it affects people who have not yet been vaccinated or who have only had one dose, which means we have to be even faster in this vaccination campaign.”

People enjoy their drinks by the Tagus river in Lisbon. (AP Photo)

Portugal: Portugal has announced new restrictions for the Lisbon region and two other areas due to rising case numbers.

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Cabinet Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said on Thursday the new rules were “an attempt to contain” the Delta variant, which now accounts for more the half of new cases in the capital and the Tagus Valley. The rules include a weekend travel ban for the Lisbon area, with residents only allowed to leave for essential journeys. Plans to ease restrictions elsewhere in the country have also been dropped.

Australia: The centre of Australia’s largest city Sydney entered lockdown, a shock for a population that had returned to relative normality after months of recording very few local cases.

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In Australia, which has been one of the most successful nations in containing the coronavirus after shutting its borders, around a million people in four eastern and central Sydney neighbourhoods were ordered to stay home for at least a week. Sixty-five infections have been reported in a flare-up linked to a limousine driver infected about two weeks ago when he transported an international flight crew from Sydney airport to a quarantine hotel.

Israel: Israel, which has prided itself on having one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns, has seen infections surge since dropping a requirement to wear masks in enclosed public places 10 days ago.

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The head of Israel’s pandemic response taskforce, Nachman Ash, said the rise was likely due to the Delta variant, adding that the increasing cases were not yet matched by a parallel rise in hospitalisations or deaths.

Fiji: The archipelago of more than 300 islands recorded a surge of 300 new daily infections on Thursday, after going a full year without recording a single community case until April — when the Delta variant arrived.

With numbers doubling every nine days, the government’s head of health protection, Aalisha Sahukhan, said “all the evidence is that there is widespread community transmission”.

A man walks past a graffiti promoting vaccination, in Johannesburg. (AP Photo)

Africa: A surging third wave in Africa is pushing up the number of Covid-19 deaths as hospitals become overwhelmed and the Delta variant of Covid-19 rampages across at least 20 countries.

“The Delta variant is aggressively taking over from other variants and crowding them out, not just in Uganda but in other countries such as the DRC,” said Africa CDC director Dr John Nkengasong at his weekly Covid-19 briefing.

Singapore: On May 31, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first signalled that the Delta variant had led to a fresh bout of Covid cases in the country. Since then, Singapore has started a more aggressive contact tracing, testing and quarantine campaign to prevent the spread of the disease.

Indonesia: As Covid cases rise in parts of Indonesia, health officials have found that the Delta variant was dominant in several areas, including the capital city of Jakarta. According to the Health Ministry, the current wave was caused by a rise in travel during the Eid holidays in May, but warned that the Delta variant has contributed to the intensity of the surge, the Wall Street Journal reported.

First published on: 26-06-2021 at 02:06:26 pm
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