Covid-19 cases surge in parts of the world, warning for India

Several countries around the world have reported a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases, dominated by the Delta, Omicron or the new BA.2 variant.

A high-level meeting was called on Wednesday by Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya to track India’s preparedness and level of alertness as several Asian countries report another surge in Covid-19 cases. India has just started reviving itself from the Omicron-led third wave of the pandemic. The Centre recently announced plans to resume international flights from March 27 after a gap of two years.

Covid surge in Asia

Countries including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have recently reported a spike in coronavirus infections. While China’s Covid outbreak appears to be slowing down this week, South Korea’s daily new Covid-19 infections reached a record 621,328.

Emergence of Covid-19 variant BA.2

While Delta and Omicron continued to dominate the Asian wave of Covid-19, a new concerning variant – BA.2 – is setting the stage for a revival of pandemic risks in Europe. Considered an even faster transmissible strain than the Omicron variant, the virus has rapidly spread in Germany and Austria.

Most health officials in Europe have shrugged it off, showing little appetite to re-impose the curbs that were just eased. However, German health minister Karl Lauterbach is one of the few to raise the alarm, saying that the outbreak has shown signs of worsening and causing “many deaths”

In France, millions of high school students and teachers ditched masks for the first time in almost two years this week, while England plans to drop its last restrictions on Thursday and end the free mass testing on April 1.

Italy is also showing signs of rising infections with about 120,000 school kids, some 2.5% of the total, in quarantine during the week that ended March 5 – the latest government data showed. In the southern town of Cerchiara di Calabria, the mayor has closed all schools again this week due to increasing cases.

Covid surge in the US

More than a third of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wastewater network that monitors for Covid-19 sample sites across the US showed rising Covid-19 trends in the month of March till March 10, at a rate nearly twice as high as the same period in February. While people in many parts of the country have started returning back to offices with mask rules having been loosened, authorities are on alert again over the new risk of transmission.

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