The nightmare returns.
In Indonesia, gravediggers work even at night, and oxygen and vaccine supplies are very low. In Europe, countries are closing their doors again, imposing quarantines and prohibiting certain movements. Garment workers in Bangladesh who fled an impending shutdown are almost certainly sowing a new coronavirus epidemic in their impoverished villages.
And in countries like South Korea and Israel, which appeared to have largely defeated the virus, new nuclei of the disease have proliferated. Chinese health authorities announced Monday (28) that they would build a giant quarantine center, with up to 5,000 rooms, to accommodate international travelers. Australia has ordered millions of people to stay at home.
A year and a half after starting to travel the world with increasing efficiency, the pandemic is spreading again in vast regions of the world, carried mainly by new variants, in particular the highly contagious delta variant, identified for the first time in India.
From Africa to Asia, countries are suffering a record number of new cases and deaths from Covid-19, while richer countries, with high vaccination rates, have lowered their guard, giving up the compulsory mask wearing and enjoying a life close to normal. .
Scientists believe the delta variant may be twice as transmissible as the original coronavirus, and its potential to infect some partially vaccinated people has alarmed public health officials. Unvaccinated populations, whether in India or Indiana, can serve as incubators for new variants that can evolve in surprising and dangerous ways, like the delta, which gave rise to what Indian researchers call the delta more. There are also gamma and lambda variants.
“We are in a race against the spread of variants of the virus,” said Professor Kim Woo-joo, an infectious disease specialist at Guro University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea.
Malaysia’s ongoing political talks in the Seychelles – whether there is a need to impose lockdowns and the use of masks – are starting to resonate in countries with far more resources, including large quantities of vaccines. On Monday, health officials in Los Angeles, where delta-variant infections are on the rise, urged residents, even those already vaccinated, to wear masks indoors. (However, many scientists have said that masks are not needed in areas where the virus is not prevalent.)
While new images from Nepal or Kenya of overcrowded intensive care units and dying doctors bring horrific memories to the West, it is not clear whether they also offer a glimpse into the future.
Most of the existing vaccines appear to be effective against the delta variant, and early research indicates that those infected are likely to develop mild or asymptomatic forms of the disease. But even in the wealthiest countries – except for a handful of them with small populations – less than half of the population is fully immune. Experts say that with the spread of the new strains, much higher vaccination rates and continued precautions are needed to control the pandemic.
The smoke that rose again from crematoria in less wealthy countries highlighted the chasm between the haves and have-nots. Wide inequalities in economic development, health systems and, despite promises from world leaders, access to vaccines made the latest epidemic much bigger and deadlier.
“Developed countries have used the available resources because they have the resources and want to protect their populations first,” said Dono Widiatmoko, senior lecturer in health and social services at the University of Derby (UK). Uni) and member of the Indonesian Public Health Association. “It’s natural, but if you look at it from a human rights perspective, all life has the same value.”
And, as public health officials keep saying and the pandemic continues to prove it, as long as a region is affected, no part of the world will be safe.
While the Delta variant wreaked havoc in India, when the pandemic killed more than 200,000 people there – an official tally that is widely seen as a sub-reality – and crippled the economy, it also crossed over. national borders, infecting Mount Everest climbers, pro-protesters. democracy in Myanmar and travelers arriving at London International Airport. Today, it has been detected in at least 85 countries and is the predominant variant in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.
The ferocious transmissibility of the strain was fully evident in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world.
In May, infections there were at their lowest since the country was hit by the pandemic last year. In late June, Indonesia suffered a record number of cases because the delta variant prevailed after a religious holiday that spread travelers across the archipelago. On Tuesday (29), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement warned the country was “on the brink of disaster”.
Less than 5% of Indonesians have been fully immunized and frontline healthcare workers have been immunized with Sinovac, the Chinese vaccine which may be less effective than others. At least 20 Indonesian doctors who received the two doses of Sinovac have died. But with Western countries accumulating vaccines that appear to be more potent, countries like Indonesia and Mongolia have had no choice but the many Chinese alternatives.
Hong Kong officials last week suspended passenger flights from Indonesia and have been doing the same for travel from the UK since Thursday.
In May, Portugal tried to revive its tourism industry, welcoming sun-hungry British tourists again, despite reports of the spread of the delta variant in the country. A few weeks later, the British government instituted a quarantine for travelers arriving from Portugal, including Britons returning from vacation.
With a sharp increase in cases of delta variants, Lisbon entered a weekend lockdown and Germany saw Portugal as a “virus variant zone”. Now Portugal has withdrawn from its reception of tourists and demands that unvaccinated Britons be quarantined.
In Bangladesh, scientists found that nearly 70% of the coronavirus samples in the capital, Dhaka, taken between May 25 and June 7, were of the delta variant. The rates of positive tests for the coronavirus this week were around 25%, compared to 2% in the United States.
Bangladesh recorded its highest number of daily cases on Wednesday. The numbers are expected to rise further as migrant workers returned to their villages ahead of the July 1 nationwide lockdown, potentially exposing these communities to the virus.