WHO urges action to suppress Covid before variants emerge

Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 4.2 million people and infected over 197.8 million globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for July 31:

People, with ages between 18 and 29, queue to receive a dose of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, in Mexico City, Mexico on July 30, 2021.
People, with ages between 18 and 29, queue to receive a dose of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, in Mexico City, Mexico on July 30, 2021. (Reuters)

Saturday, July 31:

WHO urges action to suppress Covid before variants emerge

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is a warning to the world to suppress the virus quickly before it mutates again into something even worse, the WHO has said.

The highly-transmissible variant was first detected in India. It has now surfaced in 132 territories and is partly to blame for an 80 percent rise in coronavirus deaths in Africa over the past four weeks, the World Health Organization said.

“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,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “So far, four variants of concern have emerged – and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread.”

Though Delta has shaken many countries, Ryan said proven measures to bring transmission under control still worked.

“The same measures that we have applied before will stop that virus,” notably physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and avoiding long periods indoors in poorly ventilated, busy places.

“They are stopping the Delta strain, especially when you add in vaccination.

But we need to work hard,” he said.

Tedros said that on average, infections increased by 80 percent over the past four weeks in five of the six WHO regions.

Thailand reports daily record of new coronavirus cases and new deaths

Thailand has reported a daily record of 18,912 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country’s total accumulated cases to 597,287.

The country also reported 178 new deaths, also a daily record, taking total fatalities to 4,857.

Mexico records 19,346 more cases, 459 deaths

Mexico’s Health Ministry has recorded 19,346 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 459 fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,829,443 and the reported death toll to 240,456.

Australia’s third-largest city of Brisbane to enter lockdown

Australia’s third-largest city of Brisbane and other parts of Queensland state will enter a snap Covid lockdown from Saturday as authorities race to contain an emerging outbreak of the Delta strain.

Millions of residents in the city and several other areas will be placed under stay-at-home orders from Saturday afternoon for three days, state Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

Brazil reports 40,904 new cases, 963 deaths

Brazil has recorded 40,904 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 963 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered more than 19.8 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 555,460, according to ministry data.

Study: Vaccinated people can carry as much virus as others

In another dispiriting setback for the nation’s efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, scientists who studied a big Covid-19 outbreak in Massachusetts concluded that vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.

Health officials on Friday released details of that research, which was key in this week’s decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the US where the delta variant is fueling infection surges.

The authors said the findings suggest that the CDC’s mask guidance should be expanded to include the entire country, even outside of hot spots.

The findings have the potential to upend past thinking about how the disease is spread. Previously, vaccinated people who got infected were thought to have low levels of virus and to be unlikely to pass it to others. But the new data shows that is not the case with the delta variant.

Disney mandates vaccines for on-site US employees

Walt Disney has announced it was making vaccination mandatory for all its on-site salaried and non-union hourly employees in the United States, as the highly infectious Delta Covid-19 variant drives a resurgence in cases.

Disney added that they would require any newly hired employees to be fully vaccinated before beginning their employment.

This news comes as major tech companies including Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, and Uber this week said that all of its US employees must get vaccinated to step inside their offices.

Health authorities on Tuesday said Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should go back to wearing masks in indoor public places in regions where the coronavirus is spreading rapidly.

Uganda eases Covid curbs as admissions fall

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ordered an easing of a six-week Covid lockdown following a dramatic reduction in serious cases of the disease.

Infections had soared during a second wave driven by the highly transmissable Delta variant but since the lockdown, the authorities say daily admissions of severe and critical patients dropped from a daily peak of 204 to 50 currently.

Under the new measures, most public and private transport is set to resume from Monday, although bus operators were ordered to limit passengers to 50 percent of vehicle capacity.

Schools and places of worship are to stay closed and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in force but the number of employees allowed to go to their offices will increase from 10 to 20 percent of the workforce.

According to health ministry figures, Uganda has registered 93,927 Covid cases of which 2,690 have been fatal, although privately senior clinicians say the true number of deaths is likely to be much higher.

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