The more dangerous and fast-spreading coronavirus variant, Delta, which originated from India has reached at least 104 countries across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday, warning it will soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide.
In Zimbabwe, the Delta strain was first detected in May in the Midlands city of Kwekwe resulting in the government imposing a localised lockdown to contain it.
Neighbouring South Africa is also battling the same variant.
Briefing the media on Covid-19 yesterday, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Delta variant was driving a new spike in cases and deaths.
“The world is watching in real time as the Covid-19 virus continues to change and become more transmissible. The Delta variant is ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in cases and death. In places with high vaccination coverage, Delta is spreading quickly; especially infecting unprotected and vulnerable people and steadily putting pressure back on health systems.”
Ghebreyesus said the WHO continues to receive reports from all regions of the world about hospitals reaching capacity.
“For health workers that have been in a titanic battle for more than a year and have record waiting lists to attend to, increased hospitalisations at any level is a challenge to them and their patients and to the overall capacity of the health system,” he decried.
“Delta and other highly transmissible variants are driving catastrophic waves of cases, which are translating into high numbers of hospitalisations and deaths. Even countries that successfully managed to ward off the early waves of the virus, through public health measures alone, are now in the midst of devastating outbreaks.”
Last week, Ghebreyesus said, marked the fourth consecutive week of increasing cases of Covid-19 globally, with increases recorded in all but one of WHO’s six regions.
“And after 10 weeks of declines, deaths are increasing again,” bemoaned the WHO chief.
“My message today is that we are experiencing a worsening public health emergency that further threatens lives, livelihoods and a sound global economic recovery. It is definitely worse in places that have very few vaccines, but the pandemic is not over anywhere. The current collective strategy reminds me of a fire fighting team taking on a forest blaze.”
He added: “Hosing down part of it might reduce the flames in one area but while it’s smouldering anywhere, sparks will eventually travel and grow again into a roaring furnace. The world should battle together to put out this pandemic inferno everywhere. The global gap in vaccine supply is hugely uneven and inequitable.”