The spread of the delta variant has set off alarms and authorities in several countries, from Bangladesh to Australia, through Israel and some European countries, are taking measures to contain the continued spread of the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus..
While vaccination campaigns have reduced infections in most wealthy nations, the rise in cases from the delta variant has raised fears of new waves of a virus that has already killed nearly four million people across the world. world.
“There is currently a lot of concern about the delta variant, ”said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Friday. at a press conference.
“Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far, it has been identified in at least 85 countries and it is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations, ”he added.
Portugal, Spain and Germany issued new travel restrictions in an attempt to limit the spread of the delta variant. Thus, since yesterday, unvaccinated British traveling to Portugal must go through a mandatory quarantine for two weeks, according to an order published by the Portuguese government.
The move was taken after German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Portugal last week for allowing British tourists to travel to the country between mid-May and early June, while the delta variant circulated in the UK. In this way, Portugal became the first country in the European Union to announce that the variant was now dominant in its territory.
In the same line, Germany announced restricted entry from Portugal and Russia on Friday after the Robert Koch Institute classified the two countries as “various variant areas.” Only German citizens and residents will be able to re-enter the country as long as they go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine, even for those who are fully vaccinated. The measure goes into effect today, and a wave of last-minute German tourists were expected to return home before the restriction took effect.
France, for its part, announced last week that it was adding Russia to its “red list” of 21 countries subject to severe travel restrictions. due to concerns about the increase in coronavirus infections.
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In Sydney, Australia’s largest city, a two-week lockdown began and people were ordered to stay home except for essential travel. Sydney’s new restrictions apply to some five million people, along with hundreds of thousands of people living in nearby towns. Australia’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the suspension would give officials time to consider measures “to make the bubble more secure, such as pre-departure tests for all flights” between the two countries.
In the same line, New Zealand, citing “multiple outbreaks” in Australia, announced a three-day suspension of its quarantine-free travel agreement with its larger neighbor.
South Africa extended a night curfew on Sunday and introduced a ban on gatherings, sale of alcohol, indoor dining and some 14-day domestic travel, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
While In Bangladesh, the government warned of a “dangerous and alarming” increase in infections related to the delta variant and since yesterday stopped all public transport, prompting thousands of migrant workers to flee the capital Dhaka before the restrictions were applied. Additionally, the restrictions include office closings for one week and only health-related transportation is allowed.
The Thai authorities declared a limited month-long lockdown on the capital Bangkok and neighboring provinces. And Malaysia extended a national shutdown that yesterday was scheduled to relax.
On Indonesia, President Joko Widodo said the country of 270 million people faces an “extraordinary situation” and pledged to respond with “swift and appropriate policies.”. The country recorded more than 21,000 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily count yet.
The The delta variant, which was first identified in India in April, is so contagious that experts say more than 80% of the population would need to be inoculated to contain it, a challenging goal even for nations with major vaccination programs. The variant is now responsible for more than 90% of all new infections in the UK and around 30% in the US.
Health experts have warned, says The Washington Post, that is on its way to becoming the most dominant version of the coronavirus worldwide. World Health Organization said last week that it has been detected in at least 92 countries.
On Taiwan, which reported its first case of delta on Saturday, the local Centers for Disease Control announced new restrictions for people arriving from seven “high-risk countries”: Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel and Peru.
Hong Kong also said it will ban all passenger flights from the UK starting this week, due to the growing number of new coronavirus cases and “the widespread delta variant strain there,” according to a government statement.
The Hong Kong government explained that the city also recorded several cases of the L452R variant, a mutation linked to the delta, in people arriving from the United Kingdom. The territory confirmed its first local case of Covid-19 related to the variant last week, ending 16 days in a row without local cases.
Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has also seen an increase in delta cases in recent weeks, prompting authorities to reinstate an indoor mask mandate that was removed just two ago. weeks.
The Israeli government, says The Washington Post, relies on the country’s high vaccination rate to protect residents from virus-related hospitalizations and deaths.