With the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, the number of infections has been rising across most regions of the world, chief scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday. She also called it clear evidence that the pandemic is not on the wane yet, news agency Bloomberg reported.
In an interview to Bloomberg Television, Dr Swaminathan said that most parts of the world have been facing a shortage of medical oxygen, a lack of hospital beds and higher mortality rates while the vaccination levels in some countries have been mitigating severe cases of infection and also the hospitalisation.
“In the last 24 hours, close to 500,000 new cases have been reported and about 9,300 deaths — now that’s not a pandemic that’s slowing down,” Bloomberg quoted Dr Swaminathan as saying.
Five out of the six WHO regions have witnessed an increase in the number of cases being reported and in Africa, mortality rates spiked by 30% to 40%, she mentioned. She also said that the “fast-spreading” Covid-19 Delta variant is the main reason behind the increase in the infection while the slow rate of vaccination rollout across the world along with the relaxation of safety measures like mandatory wearing of masks and physical distancing rules.
Earlier in the day, director-general of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus too emphasised on the need for increased vaccinations against the coronavirus disease. “I’m worried about the emergence of a potent #COVID19 virus variant, like Delta. Unless we increase vaccine access to those who need them first & need them now, we’re collectively at high risk of losing the gains we’ve made. Speed is very important,” he said in a tweet.
The WHO chief’s warning came ahead of the restrictions set to be relaxed in the United Kingdom on July 19. Also, the US and some countries in Europe have already eased some restrictions following the fall in the number of cases.
As of 2pm (IST) on Friday, 185,038,806 cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally, according to the WHO’s dashboard and 4,006,882 people have lost their lives so far.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)