Geneva | The British and South African variants of the particularly contagious coronavirus are now spreading to at least fifty countries, in a world submerged by a new wave of contaminations that confinements, curfews and vaccination campaigns fail to stem .
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The number of countries and territories where the variant initially spotted in Great Britain is now found in mid-December stands at 50 and it is 20 for the variant identified in South Africa, the World Health Organization has announced ( WHO), deeming this assessment very likely to be underestimated.
A third mutation, originating in the Brazilian Amazon and whose discovery Japan announced on Sunday, is currently being analyzed and could impact the immune response, according to the WHO, which mentions in its weekly bulletin “a worrying variant”.
“The more the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate,” said the WHO, which says it “expects the emergence of more variants” characterized by “greater transmissibility “.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed at least 1,963,557 people around the world, close to the symbolic 2 million mark, since the WHO office in China reported the onset of the disease at the end of December 2019, according to a report established by AFP on Wednesday.
More than 91.5 million people have been infected, and the commotion is intensifying – with “lockdowns”, curfews and other unpopular restrictions – to stop this renewal of the pandemic which is currently affecting the country. planet.
Three minutes dead
The United States is the most affected country in terms of both deaths (almost 381,000) and cases (nearly 23 million). With an average of three deaths per minute, the country recorded on Tuesday a new daily death record (4,470).
“This is certainly the darkest period of my entire career,” said Kari McGuire, the head of the palliative care unit at Sainte Marie Hospital in Apple Valley, a small rural town in California, where patients are piling up throughout the establishment, with an “astronomical” number of deaths.
In hopes of curbing contagion, federal authorities have decided that all travelers wishing to travel to the United States by plane will have to test negative for COVID-19 from January 26.
The deaths are to be deplored in all regions of the country, with a particularly high increase in the south and west.
In Canada, Ontarians have been ordered to stay at home as the province’s health care system is “on the verge of collapse” according to local authorities.
The vaccinated pope
In China, which has largely eradicated the epidemic, which appeared in the country at the end of 2019, and where the last officially reported death dates back to last May, several outbreaks of contamination have appeared in recent days, prompting a firm response from the authorities, with strict travel restrictions for tens of millions of people.
This is particularly the case in the province of Heilongjiang (northeast), bordering Russia, as well as in Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, where 76 million inhabitants were forbidden to leave the province.
Nationally, the daily report on Wednesday reported 115 new contaminations, the highest figure since July.
Even if we remain very far from the figures recorded in the rest of the world, the resurgence of cases of COVID-19 worries the authorities as the Chinese New Year approaches, on February 12, synonymous with countless trips and return trips in families.
China is also preparing to receive a team of WHO experts to investigate the origin of the coronavirus. Expected Thursday in Wuhan, in the center of the country, she should be placed in quarantine before starting her investigation.
Still in Asia, Japan extended its state of emergency, already in place in Tokyo and its suburbs, to seven additional departments on Wednesday, including an evening closure of bars and restaurants.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo received the first injection of a Chinese vaccine (Coronavac) in his country on Wednesday, on the first day of a vaccination campaign in the immense archipelago.
Pope Francis, 84, was also vaccinated Wednesday, according to reporters.
Target 15 million
As the epidemic spreads, governments around the world are rushing to acquire and deliver vaccines as quickly as possible. These efforts should not, however, guarantee collective immunity in 2021 according to the WHO.
In Europe, the European Medicines Agency announced on Tuesday that it had received an authorization request for the vaccine from the AstraZeneca / Oxford alliance, with a possible decision on January 29. The vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna are already authorized in the EU.
The situation remains very worrying on the continent, where restrictions are back everywhere.
In France, a Health Defense Council could decide on new restrictions on Wednesday, while the English variant begins to settle in the territory.
Switzerland has announced a new series of measures, with compulsory teleworking, closure of shops and limitation of gatherings, due to an “extremely tense epidemiological situation”, according to the government.
The United Kingdom, the most severely affected country in Europe to date, intends to implement 24-hour vaccination “as soon as possible”. The objective is to vaccinate the over-70s by mid-February. and caregivers, or about 15 million people, for 2.4 million vaccinated today since December 8.
A good student in the fight against the pandemic until December 2020, Ireland became the country with the highest transmission rate in the world this week, ahead of the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
In Italy, also under the threat of a possible political crisis, the government has announced its intention to extend the state of emergency until April 30, even if it intends to reopen museums in the least affected areas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a mass vaccination campaign to begin next week, claiming that the vaccine designed by his country is the “best”.
Jordan launched its vaccination campaign on Wednesday, starting with health workers, people with chronic diseases and those over the age of 60.