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WHO ready to respond to variants

The emergency committee of the international organization is due to issue recommendations on Friday in the face of the appearance of more contagious variants of the coronavirus, likely to cause a new explosion of the pandemic which is already approaching two million victims.

The emergency committee of the international organization is due to issue recommendations on Friday in the face of the appearance of more contagious variants of the coronavirus, likely to cause a new explosion of the pandemic which is already approaching two million victims.

(AFP) – As the number of covid-19 cases spikes again, some countries are responding. The United Kingdom closes its borders from Friday at 4 am to arrivals from all countries in South America and Portugal due to a mutation discovered in Brazil and described as “worrying” by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Portugal has for its part resolved to a new general confinement from the same day while France will extend on Saturday throughout its territory a curfew from 6 p.m. and will require travelers wishing to enter from a country outside the Union European (EU) test negative for covid-19 before leaving.

The WHO emergency committee normally meets every three months, but the director-general of the international organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus invited its members on Thursday, two weeks ahead of schedule, to tackle the problem. subject of these recent evolutions of the virus and consider the use of vaccination certificates and tests for international travel. Already in the United States IT companies, including Microsoft, health institutions and NGOs have formed a coalition to develop a vaccination passport.

Nearly 2 million dead

The latest, a mutation originating in the Brazilian Amazon and whose discovery Japan announced on Sunday could, according to the WHO, impact the immune response. Appeared before her, the so-called British and South African variants, particularly contagious, now extend to at least fifty and twenty countries respectively, in a world submerged by a new wave of contaminations that containment, curfews and campaigns immunizations fail to stem.

The resurgence of covid-19 does not spare China, where the disease was first reported at the end of 2019 in Wuhan (center). This country had brought the epidemic under control, but on Thursday recorded its first death from the virus since May, in Hebei province. WHO experts arrived in China on Thursday to investigate the origins of the disease. The visit is highly sensitive for the Chinese power, which seeks to exclude any responsibility for the pandemic which has killed at least 1.9 million people around the world, according to an AFP count.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded Thursday evening for significantly tighter restrictions and called for a meeting of the authorities next week, according to a source close to her party. Some 25,164 new cases have been recorded there in the past 24 hours and 1,244 deaths, a record number.

American emergency plan

In Italy, the government extended the state of emergency until April 30. The Vatican has said that Pope Francis, 84, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 93, have been vaccinated. In Turkey, the vaccination campaign started on Thursday with the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine, administered to healthcare workers in different regions. Faced with an exponential increase in cases, Lebanon began strict confinement for eleven days on Thursday, while some hospitals are starting to run out of beds.

Tunisia has also re-confined itself, for four days, from Thursday to Sunday, in the face of a “very dangerous” epidemiological situation, according to health authorities. In Brazil, the state of Amazonas (north) announced Thursday the establishment of a curfew due to the saturation of hospitals, overwhelmed by the influx of patients with covid-19, with serious problems of oxygen supply. “Our region produces large amounts of oxygen (thanks to the forest), but today, it is our population that needs oxygen and solidarity,” Governor Wilson Lima said.

Faced with the shock suffered by the world’s largest economy as a result of the pandemic, US President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a new emergency stimulus package of 1.9 trillion dollars, supposed to get the United States out of its worst crisis since the 1930s.

Checks to families, funds to reopen schools, money to speed up tests and vaccines, cash for small businesses, or even more food aid: this “safeguard plan” must respond to the emergency, and prevent the country from sinking further into the crisis. So far, nearly 390,000 people have been cut down by the disease in the United States.


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