- The immediate problem with the Delta Variant is that it is highly contagious.
- Right now, the Variant is surging through Asia this week.
- In Australia and South Korea, Variant infections are hitting record numbers some countries to tighten protocols once again while urging citizens to get vaccinated.
The COVID-19 Delta Variant was first detected in India in December 2020. In the past 6 months, it has spread to around 100 countries. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the Variant could soon become the dominant form of the coronavirus.
In the state of New South Wales, Australia, the biggest daily rise in new cases so far this year has been reported. The latest outbreak has topped 200 with a majority of those cases caused by the Delta Variant. Sydney, home to a fifth of the country’s 25 million population, is half-way through a two-week lockdown to contain the outbreak, which has alarmed authorities amid a sluggish nationwide vaccination drive.
Australia, like several other countries in Asia, has struggled to inoculate people as initial successes in containing the pandemic led to vaccine hesitancy, and manufacturers were slow to ship doses. Australia has fully vaccinated only 6 percent of its population, while Japan has vaccinated 12 percent.
With the Summer Olympics this month in Japan, the Delta Variant is shadowing the games. According to reports, nearly one-third of all cases in eastern Japan are from the Variant and could reach 50 percent by the middle of this month. Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures are finding themselves in somewhat of a emergency with the recent surge in coronavirus infections. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has said there is the possibility of a ban on spectators attending the Olympic Games scheduled to start on July 23 if the number of cases continues to rise.
In other parts of Asia
In Thailand, specifically in Phuket, this popular tourist destination opened to fully-vaccinated visitors. Right now the Alpha Variant which was first reported in the UK is still the dominating variant in Thailand. However, Thai authorities have said they anticipate the Delta Variant will take over as the dominant reported case within the next few months. Thailand witnessed it’s third day consecutive day of record deaths due to COVID-19. Still, Thailandon Friday reported the third straight day of record coronavirus deaths. The Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, is still the dominant variant in the country, although authorities said they expect the Delta variant to dominate in the next few months.
In South Korea, coronavirus cases topped 800 yesterday, the highest in nearly 6 months. The average number of new infections in the country has risen for the past 10 days, and authorities in Seoul have delayed relaxing social distancing measures. The country only has a vaccination rate so far of under 10 percent.
In Indonesia, emergency measures began today due to a spike in COVID-19 cases with the measures expected to remain in place at least until July 20.
In India, the government is focusing on mass vaccinations in response to the gigantic surge in cases and deaths during May and June.
An uptick in new cases in Europe has put summer tourism under a dark cloud despite the launch of a European Union COVID-19 travel certificate which was hoped would incite more travel activity. Britain is also witnessing more Delta Variant cases, but despite this, the country is planning to life lockdown restrictions starting July 19. Germany said yesterday that it expects the variant to account for up to 80 percent of new cases this month. In Portugal, night-time curfews have been instituted.
In the US
The United States has also seen a rise in Delta Variant infections in parts of the country where vaccination rates remain low. US President Biden said yesterday the government will be sending special assistance to those hot spots of rising infections.