Mushroom outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta strain prompted China and Australia to impose stricter Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday as the WHO urged the world to quickly contain the mutation before it turns into something more deadly and triggers the pandemic.
China’s worst wave of coronavirus infections in months spread to two more areas on Saturday: Fujian Province and the sprawling megacity of Chongqing.
More than 200 cases have been linked to a Delta cluster in the city of Nanjing, where nine cleaners at an international airport tested positive, with the outbreak spreading across Beijing, Chongqing and five provinces as of Saturday.
The country where the disease first emerged has rushed to prevent the highly transmissible strain from taking root by incarcerating more than a million people and reintroducing massive testing campaigns.
Globally, coronavirus infections are on the rise again, with the World Health Organization announcing an 80 percent average increase in five of the health agency’s six regions over the past four weeks, a jump largely fueled by the Delta variant.
It was first discovered in India and has now reached 132 countries and territories.
“Delta is a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving, but it’s also a call to action that we must take now before more dangerous variants emerge,” WHO emergency director Michael Ryan told a news conference.
He stressed that the “game plan” is still working, which is physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and vaccination.
But both high- and low-income nations struggle to gain the upper hand against Delta, with the wildly uneven sprint for shots leaving plenty of room for variants to deal damage and evolve further.
In Australia, where only about 14 percent of the population is pinned, the third-largest city in Brisbane and other parts of the state of Queensland was set to enter a rapid Covid-19 lockdown on Saturday when a cluster of the Delta variant in six new ones. cases bubbled.
“The only way to beat the Delta tribe is to be fast, fast and strong,” Queensland Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles said, informing millions that they will be under strict stay-at-home orders under three days.
‘The war has changed’
The race for vaccines to triumph over variants seemed to be taking a hit when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released an analysis showing that fully immunized people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant can spread the disease just as easily as unvaccinated people. .
While the shots remain effective against serious illness and death, the US government agency said in a leaked internal CDC document that “the war has changed” as a result of Delta.
An analysis of a superspreading event in the northeastern state of Massachusetts found that three-quarters of sick people had been vaccinated, according to a report released Friday by the CDC.
The outbreak was linked to the July 4 festivities, which saw the latest number of infected people swell to 900, according to local reports. The findings were used to justify a return to masks for vaccinated people in high-risk areas.
“As a vaccinated person, if you have one of these breakthrough infections, you may have mild symptoms, you may have no symptoms, but based on what we see here, you could be contagious to other people,” Celine Gounder, an infectious physician and professor at New York University, AFP told AFP.
According to the leaked CDC document, a review of findings from other countries showed that although the original SARS-CoV-2 was as contagious as the common cold, each person with Delta infects an average of eight others, making it as transmissible as chickenpox, yet less than measles.
Reports from Canada, Scotland and Singapore suggest that Delta infections may also be more serious, resulting in more hospitalizations.
When asked whether Americans should expect new recommendations from health authorities or new restrictive measures, US President Joe Biden replied “in all likelihood” before leaving the White House by helicopter for the weekend.
He does not indicate what steps can be taken.