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Delta variant forces new COVID-19 lockdowns across Europe

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BANGLADESH has today announced that it would impose a new national lockdown over rising COVID-19 Delta variant, with offices shut for a week and only medical-related transport allowed, amid Europe’s lifting of restrictions.

  Disclosing this today, World Health Organisation Director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while expressing concerns over the rising Delta variant, says it has now spread to at least 85 countries and is the most contagious of any COVID-19 strain identified.

  According to sources, Sydney, Australia’s largest city has announced a fresh two-week lockdown forcing the usually bustling harbourside centre into nearly ghost town as people observed the stay at home order to contain the variant outbreak, with only those on essential trips allowed to travel.

  “Today just feels like another kick while you’re slowly getting up,” a bakery staff in central Sydney, Chris Kriketos, 32, said.

  Further report says, the outbreak of the variant in Sydney has forced New   Zealand to announce a three-day suspension of its quarantine-free travel arrangement with its larger neighbor, citing multiple outbreaks in Australia.

In a related development, South Africa, the continent’s hardest-hit country, warned on Saturday that soaring caseloads driven by the Delta variant are forcing authorities to consider tighter restrictions.

  “We are in the exponential phase of the pandemic with the numbers just growing very, very, extremely fast,” warned top virologist Tulio de Oliveira.

  In India, where the Delta variant was first detected around April, seasonal flooding of the Ganges River flushed out shallow graves where hundreds were buried at the peak of the crisis.

  Meanwhile, some European countries are easing restrictions as mass vaccination campaigns continue.

  The Delta variant has also been fuelling rising case numbers in Russia, where Saint Petersburg on Saturday reported the country’s highest daily COVID-19 death toll for a city since the start of the pandemic.

  Russia’s second city, which has hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is due to host a quarter-final next Friday, recorded 107 virus deaths over the last 24 hours.

  In Britain, Portugal and South Africa, the authorities have said the Delta variant has become the dominant coronavirus strain on their territory, while Portugal has reintroduced restrictions in the worst-hit areas, cutting back the opening hours of shops and restaurants and lowering the maximum numbers permitted there.

  Spain brought an end to mandatory outdoor mask-wearing on Saturday, although many residents in Madrid, where a major coronavirus cluster has been discovered, are keeping their faces covered for now.

  The Netherlands also ended its rules on outdoor mask-wearing, while easing restrictions on indoor dining and reopening nightclubs to people who have tested negative.

  And Switzerland scrapped most of its remaining restrictions after Health Minister Alain Berset said that the country’s use of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines gave adequate protection against the Delta variant.

  The Delta variant is so contagious that experts say more than 80 per cent of a population would need to be jabbed in order to contain it, a challenge even for nations with significant vaccination programmes.

  Global record of the pandemic is still slowing down, with the World Health Organisation reporting the lowest number of new cases worldwide since February and decreasing deaths attributed to COVID-19 according to WHO report.

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