Governments in many countries have become alert and are keeping up restrictions in order to contain the spread of the Delta variant.
Authorities in several countries – from Bangladesh and Indonesia to Australia and Israel – are racing to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, while Russia’s Saint Petersburg announced a record death toll, laying bare the challenges faced by nations worldwide in their efforts to return to pre-pandemic life.
While vaccination campaigns have brought down infections in mostly wealthy nations, the rise of the Delta variant has stoked fears of new waves of a virus that has already killed nearly four million people.
“There is currently a lot of concern about the Delta variant,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a Friday news briefing.
“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.”
In Bangladesh, authorities announced they would impose a new national lockdown from Monday over the variant, with offices shut for a week and only medical-related transport allowed.
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), on Tuesday reported its biggest rise in new locally acquired Covid-19 cases in nearly a week, prompting authorities to extend a mask mandate in Sydney for a week.
Delta, which was first identified in India in April, is so contagious that experts say more than 80 percent of a population would need to be inoculated in order to contain it – a challenging target even for nations with significant vaccination programmes. The variant is now responsible for more than 90 percent of all new infections in the United Kingdom and about 30 percent in the United States.