The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing at “an alarming rate” in Africa. Asia is not spared: Bangladesh has been subject to containment since Thursday and restrictions are announced for Saturday in Indonesia, in the face of a sharp rise in contamination. As several European countries seemed to see the end of the tunnel and gradually lifted their health measures, the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of Covid-19 cases had increased of 10% last week in this region which has 53 territories.
And this “because of the increase in mixing, travel, gatherings and the relaxation of social restrictions.” Hans Kluge, director of WHO Europe, reported “a rapidly evolving situation” with “a new worrying variant”, the Delta variant initially spotted in India, on “a continent where, despite considerable efforts of member states, millions of people are still not vaccinated “. “There will be a new wave in the European region, unless we stay disciplined,” he warned.
WHO Europe expects the particularly contagious Delta variant to become “dominant” there by August. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), however, brought a reassuring note, announcing that two doses of the vaccine appeared to protect against this variant.
Portugal and Russia on the front line
Portugal, faced with a resumption of the epidemic due to this variant, has already decided to re-establish a night curfew from Friday in 45 municipalities including Lisbon. In Russia, the government deplored Thursday a new peak of 672 deaths due to Covid-19 in 24 hours, on the eve of the quarter-final of the Switzerland-Spain football Euro which will be played in Saint Petersburg on Friday.
The WHO sounded the alarm on Thursday, urging the host cities of the last Euro matches to ensure better monitoring of spectator traffic, including before their arrival and after their departure from the stadium. At the same time, in France, pressure is mounting to force all caregivers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
These concerns for Europe are expressed in the context of the entry into force Thursday for travelers from the EU of a “health pass”, now essential to travel to 33 countries of the continent. Canadians, even unvaccinated, will also be able again, like nationals of several other states, to enter the territory of the European Union.
Africa in danger, concerns in Asia
The situation is also very worrying in Africa, where, warned the WHO, “all the records set by previous peaks” have been broken. “The speed of contamination and the scale of the third wave affecting Africa is nothing like what we have experienced so far. The rampant spread of more contagious variants is dramatically changing the nature of the threat to Africa, ”said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“We must therefore act, now, to strengthen prevention measures and prevent an emergency from turning into a tragedy,” she added. In Tunisia – where the number of new cases and deaths reached a record level – the capital Tunis and the seaside town of Bizerte (north) were placed in partial containment on Thursday. Gatherings are prohibited there and cafes and restaurants can only be served on the terrace or to take away.
Asia is not to be outdone. Bangladesh, where the government recorded a “worrying and dangerous” increase, attributed to the variant Delta, in the number of cases, entered strict confinement for a week on Thursday. The army has been deployed to enforce it, while hospitals are overwhelmed, especially in areas bordering India. In Indonesia, whose health system is also close to breakdown, President Joko Widodo announced Thursday that “emergency restrictions” would be imposed.
These will be applied from Saturday and until July 20 in the capital Jakarta, the island of Java and that of Bali, the most affected by the epidemic. In Pakistan, where the government has advised all officials to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, 70 paramilitary forces have been suspended without pay for refusing to comply.
And vaccination is now mandatory in Kazakhstan for most employees who have contact with other people, after the discovery of cases of the Delta variant. In Thailand, a country trying to revive its bloodless tourism industry despite a third epidemic wave, the first international travelers arrived on the island of Phuket on Thursday. The Covid-19 has killed nearly four million people around the world since the end of December 2019, according to a report established by AFP from official sources on Thursday.