Little over a year ago when the old normal was the norm, China reported the first case of COVID-19 in Wuhan. Health experts, in the initial phase, saw no reason as to why it should be declared as a global health emergency.
World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) announcement of emergency came only after 10,000 people were reported battling the novel coronavirus and transmission from one person to another started in full swing.
Reality dawned when thousands of people lost their lives in Italy and world over governments appeared clueless, helpless and solution-less on what steps they should take to break the chain of transmission of the deadly virus that had overpowered the world.
The good news after a year – medically tested vaccines have been rolled out. Most countries are administering these vaccines to their citizens. However, even with these good tidings comes the stark reality that the virus is here to stay, continues to multiply and create havoc. Let’s look at some of the countries across the globe and how they are battling the fresh onslaught of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 death toll in the US has topped five lakh, more than the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars combined. The numbers are so grim that the newly elected President Joe Biden held a sunset moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House. He also ordered lowering of American flags on federal buildings for the next few days.
Many experts also believe that controversy over not wearing masks in the country fuelled the issue and increased the infection rate. Multiple anti-mask rallies were held in the US to show people’s resentment against COVID protocols.
According to Johns Hopkins University, as many as 28,897,718 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the USA.
The United Kingdom has reported above 41 lakh cases so far with more than 1.2 lakh people succumbing to the deadly virus already. A more infectious variant of the virus propelled the government to impose one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe.
The country’s current measures include a stay-at-home order, closure of schools and all non-essential businesses as well as travel bans and mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving from “red list” countries.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a ban on non-essential international travel from and to the country till at least May 17.
Even as travel and aviation sectors have been among the hardest-hit during the pandemic, the fresh ban comes at a time when the new COVID-19 strain has been spreading rampantly. PM Johnson said domestic overnight stays and self-contained accommodation will be allowed no earlier than April 12 but non-essential international travel will remain banned.
He also cautioned against more deaths from the deadly virus as the country “cautiously, but irreversibly” exits lockdown in the coming days.
“We cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalizations, and sadly more deaths,” he told lawmakers in the UK Parliament.
England has also announced a roadmap to ease the current coronavirus-induced lockdown. As the first part of the “four-step” plan, children and young people of all ages will return to classroom learning in schools and colleges in England from March 8.
Coronavirus cases in Italy are now rising in large parts due to the more infectious UK variant that has entered the country. A new study by Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) points to variants as the likely source of up to 50 percent of the recent increase in cases.
The European country is under severe heat due to rising numbers. More than 3,80,000 cases are still active and the death toll is nearing a lakh mark.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has extended the ban on travel between the country’s 20 regions till March 27. The government also extended restrictions on visiting friends and relatives, under which no more than two adults can visit another person’s home.
The regional travel ban does not apply to travel for work, health, or emergency reasons, or to anyone who needs to travel to return home. Travel within Italy for tourism remains prohibited.
Despite having more than 40,000 active cases, Israel’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is unmatchable. It has the world’s highest vaccination rate per capita. Nearly half of the Israelis have received one shot, while a third have received both doses of the vaccine.
Israel has now eased restrictions across the country, but additional perks are being made available to those who have been vaccinated and can prove it using a government app known as “green badge”.
Many parts of the country have reported a sudden spike in the number of daily new cases. 80 per cent of the daily death counts are being reported from Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
India has detected two new variants of the virus – namely N440 K and E484Q in Maharashtra and Kerala. The Centre, however, noted that there is no scientific evidence to believe that these two newer virus strains are responsible for the surge in cases in some districts in these two states.
India has already reported different mutants of the COVID-19 virus. These include the UK virus strain, the variant from Brazil, and the South African strain. These three virus strains altogether have affected at least 194 individuals across the country.