In the height of summer and hoping to revive tourism, several countries of Europe began to lift the restrictions imposed by the pandemic of coronavirus. But the Delta variant it grows stronger and becomes a serious threat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a stern warning about the possibility of a new wave of the virus, driven by infections that began to break out.
After ten weeks of calm, cases registered a 10% increase last week, with the curve rising again after more than two months in Europe.
Now the guard must be kept up, warned the head of the WHO for Europe, Hans Kluge, and launched a call not to make measures too flexible, to avoid the mistakes of last summer.
Starting with those who are now playing the football Eurocup who, among the fans gathered in the stadiums and celebrations, run the risk of becoming a fuse that is lit in several countries.
A restaurant in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain. In full reopening, the Delta variant of the coronavirus threatens Europe. Photo: BLOOMBERG
In Rome, Italy, as in Munich, Germany. But also in Saint Petersburg, home to one of the quarterfinals, which for days continues to record alarming figures while all of Russia breaks new death records.
The same fears arise for the Wembley tennis championship, in a United Kingdom that has been setting new highs for days (reaching 28,000 in 24 hours), despite the fact that the vaccination campaign is reducing hospitalizations.
The stalking of this new variant, much more contagious according to experts, forced a change in plans in some countries, which were already beginning a reopening after months of harsh restrictions.
With the increase in infections, Portugal, for example, decided to restore the night curfew from Friday in 45 communes, including the capital, Lisbon.
On Portugal, where more than half of the population has already received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, “last week the situation worsened again,” warned the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, when announcing the new restrictions.
A coronavirus testing center at the airport in Dusseldorf, Germany. Photo: AFP
“Last week, the number of cases increased by 10% due to an increase in travel, conglomerations and the easing of restrictions,” warned Hans Kluge at a press conference.
The WHO official stressed that “this development occurs within the framework of a situation in rapid evolution with the Delta variant that worries millions of people not yet vaccinated. “
The UN agency’s fears appear to be borne out by data on infections in some European countries.
While Great Britain registers the new peak of 28 new infections in a single day, Russia was forced to count 672 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
Faced with a fiery outbreak of infections (23,543), the Kremlin spoke of the “need for severe measures.” Still, for now the government of Vladimir Putin rules out a quarantine.
According to estimates from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, by the end of August the Delta variant will represent 90% of the new cases of Covid-19 in the EU despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) assured that the double dose of the four approved vaccines protects against this variant.
However, the WHO’s concern remains: not the entire European population will be fully immunized by that date, considering that “63% are still waiting for the first dose.”
Fear in Israel and Africa
And while the rest of the world is in a rush for closures to halt the highly contagious mutation that started in India, even Israel – a symbolic country in the emergency response – is grappling with a surge in infections and is considering shutting down the Ben Gurion, its international airport.
The country registered 307 new cases in 24 hours were 307, the highest number since last April, when it had begun to lift most of the restrictions.
That’s why last week gave reverse and it reimposed the mandatory use of chinstraps indoors.
The authorities speak of a reintroduction of some restrictionsAs for the Tel Aviv airport, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said that flights, both inbound and outbound, could be blocked if data continues to deteriorate.
The situation continues to worsen dramatically in fragile Africa, where WHO sees an “unprecedented third wave door”, with a 25% rise in cases each week.
And a grim picture of the vaccination campaign: only 1.2% of the population received both doses.