Covid : risque de nouvelle vague en Europe, l’Afrique et l’Asie en danger

Covid: risk of a new wave in Europe, Africa and Asia in danger

© 2021 AFP

The WHO warned on Thursday of a risk of a new wave of the pandemic carried by the Delta variant in Europe, just as it is launching its health pass in the hope of reviving tourism, while the number of cases is increasing at « an alarming rate  » in Africa.

According to WHO, the Covid-19 pandemic responsible for 13 to 17 million deaths.

Asia is not spared either: Bangladesh has been subject to containment since Thursday and restrictions are announced for Saturday in Indonesia, in the face of a sharp increase in contamination.

While several countries in Europe seemed to see the end of the tunnel and were gradually lifting their sanitary measures, the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the number of cases of Covid-19 had increased. 10% last week in this region which has 53 territories. And this « due to increased mixing, travel, gatherings and the easing of social restrictions ».

Hans Kluge, the director of WHO Europe, reported « a rapidly changing situation » in the face of « a worrying new variant », the Delta variant initially identified in India, on « a continent where, despite considerable efforts Member States, millions of people are still not vaccinated ».

“There will be a new surge in the European region unless we remain disciplined,” he warned.

WHO Europe expects the particularly contagious Delta variant to become « dominant » there by August.

– Portugal and Russia in the front line –

Portugal, faced with a resumption of the epidemic due to this variant, has already decided to restore a night curfew from Friday in 45 municipalities including Lisbon.

The German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, for his part estimated that the Delta variant would represent this month « 70% to 80% » of infections in his country.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), however, brought a reassuring note, announcing that two doses of the vaccine seemed to protect against this variant.

In Russia, where the epidemic is also experiencing an outbreak with the Delta variant, the government deplored Thursday a new peak of 672 deaths due to Covid-19 in 24 hours.

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 on Thursday for EU travelers of a « health pass », now essential in order to travel to 33 countries on the continent.

Canadians, even unvaccinated, will also be able again, like nationals of several other states, to enter the territory of the European Union.

The WHO has also recommended that the host cities of the last Euro football matches ensure better monitoring of the movement of spectators, including before their arrival and after their departure from the stadium.

« We need to look beyond the stadiums themselves, » said Catherine Smallwood, an official of the European branch of this international organization.

– 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 rate of contamination and the scale of the third wave affecting Africa is nothing like what we have experienced so far. The galloping spread of more contagious variants is significantly changing the nature of the threat to Africa, » said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

« We must therefore act, now, to strengthen preventive measures and prevent an emergency from turning into a tragedy, » she added.

Asia is no exception.

Bangladesh, where the government has recorded a « worrying and dangerous » rise in the number of cases attributed to the Delta variant, entered a strict week-long lockdown on Thursday.

The army has been deployed to enforce it, while hospitals are overwhelmed, especially in the border regions of India.

In Indonesia, whose health system is also close to breaking down, President Joko Widodo announced Thursday that « emergency restrictions » would be imposed.

These will be applied from Saturday 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 civilian servants to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, 70 members of the paramilitary forces have been suspended without pay for refusing to comply.

And vaccination is now compulsory 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 battered tourism industry despite a third wave of the epidemic, the first international travelers arrived on the island of Phuket on Thursday.

Covid-19 has killed nearly four million people worldwide since the end of December 2019, according to a report compiled by AFP from official sources on Thursday.

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