The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Thursday for better monitoring Euro 2020 football matches such as Covid can rise again in Europe, fueled by the deadly Delta variant racing around the globe. Hundreds of cases have been detected among spectators attending Euro matches taking place across Europe, with carriers of the Delta strain detected in Copenhagen, and infected Scots and Finns returning from London and St Petersburg respectively. Russia posted virus death records for the third day running on Thursday, while in Britain – the place Euro semi-finals and finals take place next week – infections are rising despite a strong vaccination drive.
“There will be a new wave in the European region unless we remain disciplined,” UN agency Europe director Hans Kluge said at a press conference.
He warned that the region had seen a 10 per cent increase in cases over the past week, “driven by increased mixing, travel, rallies and easing of social restrictions”.
Asked whether the Euro championship had potentially acted as a “super-spread” event, Kluge replied: “I hope not … but this cannot be ruled out.”
The coronavirus has killed more than 3.9 million people worldwide, according to an AFP talent.
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said two doses of the vaccine appeared to provide protection against the Delta variant, based on real-world evidence.
But while some three billion jabs have been administered worldwide, global vaccine driving has marked stark inequality between countries, and low-income nations have given only an average of one shot per 100 people.
Doubtful vaccines have also been a problem for many countries including Russia, prompting President Vladimir Putin to encourage people on national television to get the jab.
On Thursday, Russia reported 672 deaths over the past 24 hours, setting yet another high pandemic.
Saint Petersburg, which is due to the Spain vs Switzerland host Euro 2020 quarter-finals on Friday in front of thousands of spectators, saw the most deaths with 115.
Authorities have introduced minimum restrictions beyond banning food sales in fan areas.
EU-wide travel passes
“What we need to look at is around the stadium. How are people getting there? Are they traveling in large crowded convoys on their buses? Are they taking individual measures when they’re doing that?” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, told reporters.
He added that it was also important to look at what happens after the games, for example if fans gather in crowded bars.
“Should this mix happen, there will be cases.”
The situation concerned in Europe coincides with the launch of an EU-wide Covid certificate means that travel facilities for the inhabitants of the 27 member states.
The document – essentially a QR code available on smartphones or on paper – shows whether the vaccine is with one of the EU’s approved approvals, whether they have recovered from an infection or recently tested negative.
But the surge in the Delta variant could put an abrupt end to this course, causing an “emergency brake” provision to stop accepting the certificate.
Asian countries blocked
Cases are rising fast in many Asian countries as well.
Bangladesh closed completely on Thursday, the army and police patrolling the streets while 168 million people were locked in their homes except for emergencies and essential purchases.
Many hospitals are struggling, particularly in the border areas of India where the Delta strain was first detected.
Some rural towns recorded infection rates of 70 percent.
The healthcare system in Indonesia is also overwhelmed by a huge wave of coronavirus, which has forced the government to impose emergency restrictions from Saturday.
The curves, which last more than two weeks, cover the capital Jakarta, hard-hitting Java and the holiday island of Bali.
Malaysia also announced tighter curves in some parts of Kuala Lumpur and the neighboring state of Selangor.
Despite the resurgence of the virus and warnings to go slowly, many nations are pressing ahead with plans to open their economies and revive sectors severely hit by the pandemic, especially travel and tourism.
Thailand launched its “Phuket Sandbox” project on Thursday, under which vaccinated international travelers can visit the holiday hotspot without the need for quarantine.
“After two years of not traveling, I chose the Phuket Sandwich to change my mood,” said 37-year-old Omar Ricalraeesi from the UAE, one of the first passengers to touch down.
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