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...TWO STEPS BACK

The Delta variant is bringing back harsh lockdowns and travel bans

France reinstates COVID-19 curfew, despite easing of COVID lockdown
Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
A view shows the deserted Champs Elysees avenue leading up to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris during a nationwide curfew, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., due to restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
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The Delta variant of Covid-19 has prompted multiple countries to reimpose restrictions to tackle the spread of infection, The Guardian reported on June 28.

On June 14, the World Health Organization had classified the Delta strain as a “variant of concern.” The organisation’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan had four days later said that the variant was becoming globally dominant.

On June 23, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that the Delta variant of Covid-19 could contribute to 90% of new cases in the European Union in the upcoming months.

“It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination,” Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said.

Two people, a 42-year-old and a 60-year-old have died in France after contracting the Delta variant of Covid-19, health authorities told The Brussels Times on Monday (June 28). The two patients had not been vaccinated and had co-morbidities.

The Delta variant “now accounts for 9% to 10%” of the new Covid-19 cases in France, said government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.

Germany, which has completely vaccinated over 35% of its citizens against Covid-19, has declared Portugal a “virus-variant zone”. The German government has banned most arrivals from the country except its own citizens and imposed a mandatory two-week quarantine for all travellers.

Multiple regions in Spain, including Catalonia, have been reporting a 20% increase in incidence of Delta variant cases. Regional health officials have predicted that the strain could be dominant within two to four weeks. But, Spain has stopped compulsory wearing of mask outdoors.

Meanwhile, Moscow has reported the highest Covid-19 toll of any Russian city so far. Russia’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned that the “only solution” was “rapid, large-scale vaccination”, according to The Guardian.

Australia’s Covid-19 response committee will hold an emergency meeting on Monday as the Delta coronavirus variant has prompted a lockdown in Sydney and resulted in the imposition of stricter restrictions in the rest of the country, reported Reuters.

“I think we are entering a new phase of this pandemic, with the more contagious Delta strain,” federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Indonesia, the country that is said to be worst-affected in south-east Asia, reported a new high of over 21,000 new Covid-19 cases, with hospitals struggling with an increasing number of patients, reported The Guardian. Malaysia’s prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has imposed a countrywide lockdown for a month that is likely to continue.

The Bangladesh government also said it would impose a new countrywide lockdown from Monday.

Meanwhile, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been cautioned that its new date of easing restrictions—July 19 —was “possibly too early,” The Independent reported.

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