Outbreaks of the Delta variant have prompted China and Australia to impose stricter Covid-19 restrictions as the WHO urged the world to quickly contain the mutation before it turns into something deadlier.
China’s most serious surge of coronavirus infections in months spread to two more areas on Saturday: Fujian province and the megacity of Chongqing.
Più di 200 cases have been linked to a Delta cluster in Nanjing city where nine cleaners at an international airport tested positive, with the outbreak spanning 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 putting more than one million people under lockdown and reinstituting mass testing campaigns.
In Australia, where only about 14 percent of the population is vaccinated, the third-largest city of Brisbane and other parts of Queensland state were to enter a snap Covid-19 lockdown Saturday as a cluster of the Delta variant bubbled into six new cases.
“The only way to beat the Delta strain is to move quickly, to be fast and to be strong,” said Queensland’s deputy premier, Steven Miles, while informing millions they will be under three days of strict stay-at-home orders. “The war has changed.”
Worldwide, coronavirus infections are again on the upswing, with the World Health Organization announcing an 80% average increase over the past four weeks in five of the health agency’s six regions, a jump largely fuelled by the Delta variant which has now reached 132 countries and territories.
“Delta is a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving but it is also a call to action that we need to move now before more dangerous variants emerge,” said the WHO’s emergencies director, Michael Ryan.
He stressed that the “gameplan” still works, namely physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and vaccination.
The race for vaccines to triumph over variants appeared to suffer a blow as the US Centers for Disease Control released an analysis that found fully immunised people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant can spread the disease as easily as unvaccinated people. While the jabs remain effective against severe disease and death, the US government agency said in a leaked internal CDC document “the war has changed” as a result of Delta.