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The pandemic is haunting the new year as the virus outpaces vaccines

The pandemic is haunting the new year as the virus outpaces vaccines

London (AFP) – Despite increasing access to vaccines, January looks bleak around the world as the Coronavirus spreads and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California, filling hospitals and threatening livelihoods again as governments close companies and race To find solutions.

England is back on lockdown. Mexico City hospitals are absorbing more virus patients than ever before. Germany recorded its highest daily death rate so far on Tuesday. South Africa and Brazil are struggling to find a place for the dead. Until the pandemic success story, Thailand is fighting an unexpected wave From infections.

As doctors face or prepare for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients after the end-of-year holiday gatherings, a growing number of countries are reporting cases of a new, more contagious variant that has already spread across Britain.

Dr Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, said January would be “tough”. “This thought that sounds like ‘Ah, we’re all tired of it. We want to look at something else. Oh, that doesn’t apply to me … That should go away. It’s really all on deck.'”

While Britain rolled out a second vaccine this week and some US states began administering a second round of vaccinations, access to vaccinations globally is sharply disproportionate. The show did not come close to meeting the epic demand needed to defeat an enemy that had already killed more than 1.85 million people.

“We are in a race to prevent infection, reduce cases, protect health systems and save lives while rolling out two highly effective and safe vaccines for populations at high risk,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s not easy. These are the hard miles.”

England faces a third national lockdown that lasts at least six weeksAs authorities struggle to stop the rise in COVID-19 cases and ease hospitals, some patients are left waiting in ambulances in a parking lot to reach the overcrowded wards.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict new stay-at-home order for England, which will take effect at midnight on Tuesday. It will close schools, restaurants, and all non-essential stores and will not be reviewed until at least mid-February. And the Scottish leader, Nicolas Sturgeon, imposed a lockdown that began on Tuesday.

The two leaders said the restrictions are necessary to protect the National Health Service, amid the emergence of the new pattern, which has led to a high number of daily injuries, hospitalizations and deaths.

Siva Anandaciva, senior analyst at King’s Fund Research Center, said the NHS is “probably going through the most difficult time in living memory”.

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy and Germany extended lockdowns around the Christmas period, Spain restricted travel, and Denmark cut the number of people who can gather in public places from 10 to five. France is likely to announce tougher measures on Thursday, and Ukraine closes schools and restaurants from Friday.

In Latin America, some warn that the worst is yet to come.

“The reinforcement that we are seeing here in Brazil is much more dangerous than it has been happening in months,” said Domingos Alves, an assistant professor at the University of Sao Paulo.

The number of patients in intensive care in Brazil has reached its highest level since August, just as the country has reopened stores and offices after the year-end holiday – and the vast country still has not approved or received any vaccines. Some Brazilian hospitals have reinstalled refrigerated containers abroad to hold the bodies of COVID-19 victims.

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The Mexican capital has more people than at any time with the virus during a pandemic, and doctors travel from the least affected states. Its beach resorts are bracing for more cases after thousands of American and European tourists visit during the holidays.

“Perhaps in the third week of January, we will see the system tighter, as there will be more emergency cases and cases requiring hospitalization,” said Dr. Mauricio Rodriguez of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He blamed the increase on fatigue with social distancing, mixed messages from public figures, and lowered Mexican caution during the holidays.

Zimbabwe has re-imposed a curfew, banned public gatherings and indefinitely suspended school reopening. In South Africa, which is experiencing another rapidly spreading type of the virus and is the worst-affected country on the continentThe authorities re-imposed curfews, banned the sale of alcohol and closed most beaches.

Mozi Helengoa, president of the National Association of Funeral Practitioners in South Africa, told state broadcaster SABC that South African funeral directors are struggling to cope with the spike in deaths.

“It’s something you’ve never seen before.… We ran out of coffins and ran out of space in the morgue,” he said. “Usually we burn bodies during the day, but now we have cremations even at night.”

The epidemic is even reaching countries where the virus appears to be under control.

Thailand is facing an increase in troop numbers in the thousands in the past few weeks, and he blames laxity and poor planning. The government is shutting down large parts of the country, including the capital, Bangkok, and is considering tougher measures.

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Japan is preparing to declare a state of emergency this week, tightening border controls and speeding up approval of a vaccine after an increase in cases on New Year’s Eve.

The holiday worries are not over now, after 2021.

Pope Francis abandoned annual infant baptism rites at the Sistine Chapel associated with the Epiphany holiday on Wednesday. Orthodox Christian countries such as Russia and Greece may face more infections after celebrating Christmas on Thursday. China closes schools early before the Lunar New Year holiday next month, and asks migrant workers not to return home and tourists to avoid Beijing.

Vaccination processes are slow in many places. In the United States, where more than 350,000 people have died, some states are struggling to secure enough shots and organize vaccinations. The Netherlands has been criticized for being the last country in the European Union to start vaccinationWhich he will do on Wednesday. Australia does not plan to do this until March. Most of the poorest countries are lagging behind.

Opposition politician Geert Wilders described the Dutch government as “the fool of the village in Europe”.

However, India offers a ray of hope. Its infection rate has dropped dramatically from its peak in September, and the country is launching one of the largest vaccination programs in the world, aiming to vaccinate 300 million people by August.


Associated Press correspondents around the world contributed.


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