Covid-19: Cases, deaths rise across the world
Virus variants, early exits from lockdowns could be the reasons
Hospitals in Turkey and Poland are filling up fast. Pakistan is restricting domestic travel to bring a surge in coronavirus infections under control. Even Thailand, which has weathered the pandemic far better than many nations, is now struggling to contain a new Covid-19 surge.
Even countries where vaccine rollouts are finally getting some momentum, infections, hospitalisations and deaths are surging. And that leaves even bleaker prospects for much of the world, where large-scale vaccination programmes remain a more distant prospect.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that it’s very concerned as infection rates are rising in all of the world’s regions, driven by new virus variants and too many nations and people coming out of lockdown too soon.
“We’ve seen rises (in cases) worldwide for six weeks. And now, sadly, we are seeing rises in deaths for the last three weeks,” Dr Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the WHO, said. In its update, WHO said new Covid-19 cases rose for a sixth consecutive week, with over four million reported in the last week. New deaths increased by 11 per cent compared to last week, with over 71,000 reported.
Turkey is among the badly hit countries, with most new cases of the virus traced to a variant first found in Britain.
Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, said said ICU units were not yet at full capacity, but that the surge was beginning to strain the nation’s relatively advanced health care system.
“The mutant form of the virus is causing more harm to the organs,” he said.
In Iran, the death toll is also rising, prompting new restrictions that will take effect for 10 days in 257 cities beginning Saturday. They involve the closure of all parks, restaurants, confectionaries, beauty salons, malls and bookstores.
Authorities in Pakistan, which is in the middle of a third surge of infections, are restricting inter-city transportation on weekends starting at midnight on Friday as part of measures aimed at limiting coronavirus cases and deaths.
And elsewhere in Asia, authorities in Thailand on Friday ordered new restrictions in an effort to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak just days before the country’s traditional Songkran New Year’s holiday, when millions of people travel.
Japan, meanwhile, announced tougher measures ahead of the Summer Olympics.
The only exceptions to the deteriorating situation are those countries that have advanced vaccination programmes, mostly notably Israel and Britain. Even the US, which is a vaccination leader globally, is seeing a small uptick in new cases.
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