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Virus cases surge around the world: WHO

Health authorities say hospitals in Turkey and Poland are filling amid a surge in coronavirus infections as Pakistan restricts domestic travel. The only exceptions to the deteriorating worldwide situation are countries with advanced COVID-19 vaccination programs, notably Israel and the UK.

Even the US – a vaccination leader globally – is recording a slight uptick in new cases, and the White House said on Friday it would send federal help to Michigan, which has the country’s worst transmission rate.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation said it was concerned about rising infection rates in every region, driven by new virus variants and too many nations coming out of lockdown too soon.


“We’ve seen rises (in cases) worldwide for six weeks. And now, sadly, we are seeing rises in deaths for the last three weeks,” Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said at a briefing in Geneva. In its latest weekly epidemiological update, the WHO reported more than 4 million COVID-19 cases in the last week.

New deaths increased by 11 percent compared to last week, with more than 71,000 reported.

The increasing number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths extends to countries where vaccinations are finally gaining momentum. That leaves even bleaker prospects for much of the world, where large-scale vaccination programs remain a more distant prospect.

Among the worst-hit countries in Turkey, most new virus cases can be traced to a variant first found in the UK. Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, said the surge was beginning to strain the country’s relatively advanced healthcare system, and “the alarm bells are ringing” for intensive care units, which are not yet at total capacity.

“The mutant form of the virus is causing more harm to the organs,” Cinel said.

“While two out of 10 patients were dying previously, the number is now four out of 10. And if we continue this way, we will lose six.” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eased COVID-19 restrictions in early March to minimize pain to Turkey’s ailing economy.

The new spike forced him to announce renewed restrictions, such as weekend lockdowns and closed cafes and restaurants during Ramadan, which starts on April 13. The death toll in Iran is also rising, prompting new restrictions that will take effect for ten days in 257 cities beginning on Saturday.

They involve closing all parks, restaurants, confectionaries, beauty salons, malls, and bookstores.

In the middle of a third surge of infections, authorities in Pakistan are restricting inter-city transportation on weekends starting at midnight on Friday as part of measures aimed at limiting coronavirus cases and deaths. Elsewhere in Asia, authorities in Thailand on Friday ordered new restrictions to contain a growing coronavirus outbreak just days before the country’s traditional Songkran New Year’s holiday, when millions of people travel.

Harris, from the WHO, said the world knows how to fight the surges.

She cited good news from the UK, where new coronavirus cases dropped 60 percent in March amid a vigorous vaccination program. However, she said people had to continue with distancing measures and avoiding crowded indoor settings.

“We must keep wearing the masks, even if vaccinated,” she said.

“People are misunderstanding, seeming to think that vaccination will stop transmission. That is not the case. We need to bring down the information while giving the vaccination a chance to prevent severe disease.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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