The pandemic is set to kill more people this year than in 2020, the WHO warned on Friday as several countries glimpse hope for a more normal life while others, like India, remain struggling with a devastating epidemic outbreak.
Covid-19 has killed at least 3.3 million people worldwide since the end of December 2019, while the appearance of variants and the uneven progress of vaccination campaigns continue to worry.
According to the boss of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “at the rate things are going”, the second year of the pandemic will be “much more deadly than the first”.
He also called for giving up immunizing children and adolescents against the coronavirus and donating the doses thus released to the Covax system to redistribute them to underprivileged nations.
Against this background, tennis star Roger Federer said on the same day that the athletes “need a firm decision” on whether the Tokyo Olympics will continue, adding that he would fully understand if the event already postponed for a year, was finally canceled.
“We don’t hear much. It makes me think that the Games will take place, although I have heard that a lot of people in Tokyo are against the Games, ”he told Swiss TV station Léman Bleu.
Japan has in this regard extended the state of emergency, which already concerned six departments including that of its capital, to three additional departments in the face of the resurgence of cases of coronavirus, only ten weeks before the opening of the Olympics.
The expected tourists
At the same time, on the strength of results deemed encouraging by their governments, several countries, particularly in Europe, are reopening their weakened economies.
Illustration, Greece lifted all traffic restrictions on Friday after seven months of confinement to usher in a much-anticipated tourist season. The only condition now to travel there: to be vaccinated or to have a negative covid test.
“The restaurants are open, you can go to the beach, you can enjoy the good weather, you can do a little shopping, it’s wonderful to be able to go out again”, exclaims a 28-year-old German tourist in Crete. , Caroline Falk.
The Greek government has promoted a major vaccination campaign, with the particular aim that the islands will be “fully protected by the end of June”.
Italy has for its part announced that it is lifting from Sunday the five-day mini-quarantine for European tourists, while in Portugal, hundreds of British holidaymakers are expected from Monday to take advantage of the lifting of restrictions. on trips granted by Lisbon to its first tourist market.
The Indian variant in the UK
England is also preparing to take a major step forward, with the reopening of museums, hotels and stadiums on Monday, thanks to a sharp drop in the number of cases of covid, after a long confinement and vaccinations carried out drum beating.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, warned on Friday that the Indian variant risked disrupting further deconfinement there if it continued to spread there, after a worrying surge in certain places, notably in the north-west and in London. .
As a result, the authorities have decided to start an accelerated screening campaign.
France for its part announced that travelers from four new countries (Colombia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Uruguay), on a list of twelve, would be subject to a ten-day quarantine from Sunday.
In the United States, the immunization campaign will make it possible to lift the obligation to wear a mask for fully vaccinated people, or about 35% of the population.
The only exception: the health authorities always recommend that vaccinated people continue to wear a mask in transport (planes, buses, trains, etc.) as well as in airports and train stations.
The United States (more than 584,000 dead) remains the country most bereaved by the pandemic, ahead of Brazil (more than 430,000), India (more than 258,000), Mexico (219,590) and the Kingdom United (127,640).
“We let people die”
In India, in the throes of a devastating epidemic outbreak, many states are grappling with vaccine shortages, limiting available slots for the 600 million adults aged 18-44 who can now get vaccinated.
Vaccination with Russian Sputnik V nevertheless began on Friday in this country of 1.3 billion inhabitants. The first injections took place in Hyderabad (center), after an emergency approval of the use of this vaccine by New Delhi on April 12.
After having plunged the big Indian metropolises into chaos, short of medicines, oxygen reserves and beds for the sick, the virus continues to wreak havoc in the countryside deprived of infrastructure.
The dead are buried or sometimes abandoned in rivers, while the sick try to cure themselves with decoctions of plants. In recent days more than 100 corpses have washed up on the banks of the Ganges, raising fears of an equally dire situation elsewhere.
“We let people die,” said Kidwai Ahmad, contacted by AFP in his village of Sadullahpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. “It is India that we are hiding from everyone”.
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