UK says delta variant 60pc more transmissible

Global coronavirus toll rises to 37,75,362

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 00:29, Jun 12,2021


The British government said Friday that the new Delta coronavirus variant is 60 per cent more transmissible in households than the variant that forced the UK to lock down in January.

The Delta variant, which first emerged in India, has caused a rise in cases in Britain, prompting questions about whether social distancing restrictions will be lifted as planned from June 21.

New research from Public Health England ‘suggests that the Delta variant is associated with an approximately 60 per cent increased risk of household transmission’ compared to the Alpha variant first identified in southeast England.

So far there have been 42,323 identified cases of the Delta variant in the UK, according to Public Health England’s data, up from 29,892 on June 2.

The Alpha variant caused a surge of Covid cases in January before a mass vaccine campaign, leading to a three-month lockdown as hospitals were stretched to near-capacity.

The government has since ramped up its vaccine drive, and has now administered nearly 41 million first doses and nearly 29 million second doses to adults over 25.

This means 43 per cent of the total population are fully vaccinated and 18 per cent are half vaccinated.

But cases are rising again, with new daily infections hitting 7,393 on Thursday, a level not seen since February.

More than 90 per cent of new cases were of the Delta variant, the government said.

However, the number of patients in hospital remains low, at just over 1,000 on Thursday, and health secretary Matt Hancock has said most in-patients are people who are unvaccinated.

The government said this suggested the vaccination programme is mitigating the impact of the Delta variant, urging the public to get both jabs.

Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK health security Agency, said that ‘two doses provide significantly more protection’ against the Delta variant than one.

The UK has reported 127,867 deaths from the virus, the highest toll in Europe.

Under the government roadmap, England plans to drop rules on numbers at social gatherings and allow large weddings and the reopening of nightclubs from June 21.

But officials have stressed that they are open to changing this date if the virus situation changes, with a decision due next week, as many businesses push for full reopening.

The coronavirus has killed at least 37,75,362 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1000 GMT on Friday.

At least 17,47,62,040 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

The World Health Organisation estimates that the pandemic’s overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19.

On Thursday, 14,010 new deaths and 4,29,466 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were India with 3,403 new deaths, followed by Brazil with 2,504 and Argentina with 669.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 5,98,748 deaths from 3,34,26,425 cases.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 4,82,019 deaths from 1,72,10,969 cases, India with 3,63,079 deaths from 2,92,74,823 cases, Mexico with 2,29,578 deaths from 24,45,538 cases, and Peru with 1,87,847 deaths from 19,95,257 cases.

Latin America and the Caribbean overall has 11,98,503 deaths from 3,45,79,401 cases, Europe 11,48,664 deaths from 5,34,66,367 infections, and the United States and Canada 6,24,604 deaths from 3,48,24,013 cases.

Asia has reported 5,23,372 deaths from 3,80,18,616 cases, the Middle East 1,45,445 deaths from 88,34,869 cases, Africa 1,33,670 deaths from 49,88,634 cases, and Oceania 1,104 deaths from 50,140 cases.

The leaders of G7 countries meet for their first in-person talks in nearly two years, with the rich democracies expected pledge one billion vaccine doses to the world’s poorest countries.

The Pakistan province of Punjab — the country’s most populous, which includes the megacity of Lahore — says it will block the mobile phones of people refusing to get vaccinated.

South Africa has officially entered its third wave with rising caseloads and a sluggish vaccine rollout fuelling fears of fresh strain on the country’s healthcare system.

Two guests on one of the first cruise ships to sail from North America since the pandemic test positive, despite all passengers and crew having been tested and vaccinated.

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