June 19, 2021 5:24:11 pm
The emergence of the Delta variant, first detected in India, is being cited as the primary reason for a surge in Covid-19 cases in countries around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the highly transmissible variant is quickly becoming the globally dominant variant of the deadly infection.
“The Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its increased transmissibility,” the WHO’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said during a news conference recently. Just last month, the WHO had labelled the Delta variant as a “variant of concern”.
While the Delta variant fuelled the ferocious second wave of Covid infections in India, cases in the country have been on a downward trajectory since mid-May.
Meanwhile, countries such as the UK, which had begun easing restrictions as a large chunk of its population had received at least one dose of a vaccine, are now witnessing a rise in infections. The UK is not alone. Several countries, including Russia and Indonesia, are now reporting a surge in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant. Even the United States is warning citizens to get vaccinated quickly, before Delta becomes the dominant variant in the country.
Here is a look at the countries that are urging vigilance over the Delta virus strain
The United Kingdom
In the last week, the UK has witnessed a slight surge in cases, with an estimated 119,000 people testing positive for coronavirus, as opposed to 110,000 the week before. According to Public Health England, the Delta variant accounts for nearly all these cases, BBC reported.
In the UK, the Delta variant has become the dominant strain, surpassing ‘alpha’, which was first detected in the country last year. In view of the recent surge in cases, UK authorities have postponed the planned relaxation of pandemic restrictions.
The increase in cases comes despite the fact that Britain has managed to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of its citizens with at least one dose of the vaccine.
The United States
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.
With the US’ impressive vaccination drive in full swing, the country has witnessed a significant decline in daily cases and deaths in recent months. But experts fear that the new variant could lead to a fresh surge in cases.
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 vaccine would protect citizens against the new variant.
In Russia, the number of coronavirus cases attributed to the Delta variant has risen significantly in recent weeks. 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.
Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin assuring citizens that the worst of the pandemic was over, the country once again is reporting a surge in cases. A majority of the fresh cases have come from Moscow, where case numbers have tripled over the past two weeks, according to city officials.
On Friday, Moscow reported 9,056 new cases, the highest daily figure the city has witnessed since the pandemic first began, the New York Times reported.
Even though Russia introduced the world’s first vaccine, ‘Sputnik V’, last year, it has only managed to vaccinate 9.9 per cent of its population so far. On Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov blamed the low vaccination rate and the public’s negligence in following restrictions for the severity of the new wave of infections.
Germany and France
Following the recent surge in the UK, the leaders of France and Germany are cautioning people to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.
While Germany is currently reporting a very low number of new COVID-19 infections, “the delta variant could lead to a rise in new cases,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Friday. “We can’t pretend that corona is over,” she added.
French President Emmanuel Macron, too, said it was important to be vigilant about the new variant and the European Union would discuss at an upcoming summit how to better harmonise travel restrictions during the pandemic
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.
While businesses have largely remained open, the country’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung warned that with the Delta variant, citizens need to remain cautious in high-risk settings, such as restaurants and gyms.
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.
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