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Fast-spreading Covid-19 variants surge through Europe - March 6, 2021

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  • Fast-spreading Covid-19 variants surge through Europe - March 6, 2021

    Fast-spreading Covid-19 variants surge through Europe

    Issued on: 06/03/2021 - 15:33


    “This is the demonstration that the virus has a sort of intelligence. We can put up all the barriers in the world and imagine that they work, but in the end, it adapts and penetrates them,’’ lamented Bollate Mayor Francesco Vassallo.


    Europe recorded 1 million new COVID-19 cases last week, an increase of 9% from the previous week and a reversal that ended a six-week decline, WHO said Thursday.

    “The spread of the variants is driving the increase, but not only,’’ said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, citing “also the opening of society, when it is not done in a safe and a controlled manner.”

    The so-called U.K. variant is spreading significantly in 27 European countries monitored by WHO and is dominant in at least 10 by the agency's count: Britain, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain and Portugal.

    It is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, WHO experts warned.

    “That is why health systems are struggling more now,” Kluge said. “It really is at a tipping point. We have to hold the fort and be very vigilant.”

    In Lombardy, which bore the brunt of Italy’s spring surge last year, intensive care wards are again filling up as more than two-thirds of new positive tests are of the UK variant, health officials said this week.

    After putting two provinces and some 50 towns on a modified lockdown, Lombardy's regional governor announced tightened restrictions on Friday and closed classrooms for all age groups. Cases in Milan schools alone surged 33% in a week, the head of the provincial health system said.

    The situation is dire in the Czech Republic, which registered a record-breaking total of nearly 8,500 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 this week. Poland is opening temporary hospitals and imposing a partial lockdown as the variant has grown from 10% of all infections in February to 25% now.


    South Africa variant

    While the U.K. variant is dominant in France, forcing lockdowns in the French Riviera city of Nice and the northern port of Dunkirk, the variant first detected in South Africa has emerged as the most prevalent in the Moselle region, which borders German and Luxembourg. It represents 55% of the virus circulating there.

    The South Africa variant also is predominant in a district of Austria that extends from Italy to Germany, with Austrian officials announcing plans to vaccinate most of the 84,000 residents to curb its spread. Austria is also requiring motorists along the Brenner highway, a major north-south trucking route, to produce negative test results.

    The South Africa variant, now present in 26 European countries, is a source of particular concern because of doubts over whether the current vaccines are fully effective against it. The Brazilian variant, which appears capable of reinfecting people, has been detected in 15 European countries.


  • #2
    bump this