The WHO health emergency expert Mike Ryan has issued a warning that a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections could be knocking, noting that the pandemic was just getting started.
“All of the countries of the Americas, we still have nearly one million cases a week,” he said. “And the same in Europe, with half a million cases a week. It’s not like this thing has gone away,” Ryan added. “It isn’t over.”
Last week, the WHO’s Africa director also warned that “the speed and scale” of the continent’s third wave “is like nothing we’ve seen before”.
“COVID-19 cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
In Russia, Covid deaths hit another daily record on Tuesday, July 6, with authorities reporting 737 new fatalities.
The country’s data show that daily tally of confirmed infections has more than doubled in the past month, soaring from about 9,000 in early June to more than 23,000 this week.
The warnings come amid renewed concerns over the Delta variant, which is considered to be the most transmissible strain yet, and has now spread to nearly 100 countries worldwide.
Experts say over 80 per cent of a country’s population would need to be inoculated in order to contain it, a challenging target even for nations with advanced vaccination programmes.
Lab tests have shown that the Delta variant is more resistant to vaccines compared with other strains of coronavirus. However, there is evidence that available jabs retain important effectiveness against it after two doses.
The countries easing the curbs include the UK, where the Prime, Boris Johnson announced that most COVID-19 restrictions in the country will be lifted in two weeks, acknowledging that there will be more infections, but people will have to learn to live with the virus.
“If we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by school holidays, then we should ask ourselves, when will we be able to return to normal.”
Germany is also easing restrictions, including softer quarantine rules on travelers from India, Nepal, Portugal, Russia and the UK after the country’s public health institute declared these five nations are no longer areas of “variant of concern”.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany should lift all remaining coronavirus-linked social and economic curbs as soon as everyone has been offered a vaccine.
Authorities in Canada on Monday began loosening pandemic restrictions on travel to and from the US, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that plans to totally reopen the border would be announced in the next few weeks.