French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced a nationwide limited lockdown to tackle the surge in Covid-19 cases, while Brazil feared further devastation after its deadliest month in the pandemic so far.
France has become the latest European country to give in to stubbornly high coronavirus cases despite Macron repeatedly pledging not to reintroduce a national lockdown, even going against his scientific advisers’ recommendation for one in January .
But with daily cases doubling to around 40,000 and hospitals in sensitive areas like Paris overflowing, Macron said current measures “were too limited at a time when the epidemic was accelerating.”
The limited lockdown already in place in areas like Paris would be rolled out nationwide from Saturday night for the next four weeks, he said, while schools would close for the next three weeks – two of which are Spring Break.
In a speech to the nation, Macron again defended not to lock in January, citing recent such measures in Germany and Italy.
“With our collective choices, we have gained precious weeks of freedom, weeks of learning for our children, we have enabled hundreds of thousands of workers to keep their heads above water, without losing control of the ‘epidemic,’ he argued.
Brazil meanwhile ended a month in which it recorded an impressive 57,606 Covid-related deaths, overwhelmed hospitals and doctors forced to make agonizing decisions about who to give life-saving care.
“Never in the history of Brazil has we seen a single event kill so many people in 30 days,” said Dr Miguel Nicolelis, coordinator of the response team for the impoverished northeast.
As southern hemisphere winter approaches and the virus spreads rapidly, Brazil faces “a perfect storm,” he told UKTN.
Epidemiologist Ethel Maciel has warned that “the worst is yet to come” as the country’s vaccination campaign slowly advances due to a shortage of doses.
Health experts say the explosion of cases is in part due to a local variant of the virus known as ‘P1’, which is believed to be more contagious, able to re-infect people who had the original strain and has already spread to more than two. dozens of countries, including the United States, Great Britain and Japan.
– Chinese jabs show ‘security’ –
The world is looking to vaccines to break the cycle of infections and restrictions, but Brazil and France are just two of many countries where deployments have started at a breakneck pace.
On the positive side, the number of vaccines available could increase.
Experts from the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that an interim analysis found that two Chinese vaccines, from the companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, demonstrated “safety and good efficacy” – but that more data was needed .
The makers of another vaccine, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, are continuing plans to increase production, saying new data from the US has shown their injection to be 100% effective on 12 to 15 years old.
Pfizer has said it wants to start immunizing young people in the United States before the start of the next school year.
The United States has already deployed many more doses of vaccines than any country, with nearly 150 million of the 600 million vaccines administered worldwide.
But it has also suffered more than 550,000 deaths – the highest death toll in the world – and the coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the United States last year.
Some European countries have restricted access to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reports of blood clotting, but the EU’s medicines regulatory agency said on Wednesday it had found no specific risk factors linking the vaccine to disease.
However, the European Medicines Agency added: “A causal link with the vaccine is not proven, but is possible and further analysis is ongoing.”
– No “ miracle cure ” –
Globally, the virus has killed more than 2.8 million people since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Since then, China has mainly repelled the virus. However, after the detection of six cases near the Myanmar border, the town of Ruili will enter a weeklong lockdown – the first such move in the country in months.
Greece, meanwhile, has said it will reopen most retail stores and ease restrictions on recreation despite mounting pressure from high Covid numbers on its healthcare system.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that ivermectin, a cheap antiparasitic drug – touted by some on social media as a Covid-19 “miracle cure” – should not be used to treat coronavirus patients , citing “very low certainty of evidence.”.
With the pandemic devastating the global economy, the World Trade Organization on Wednesday gave a note of hope, saying world trade is expected to increase by 8% this year, a stronger-than-expected rebound.
However, the critical importance of tackling the pandemic has been lost on Harlock – a one-year-old German Shepherd who was having fun learning to smell Covid-19 in Rome.
“Sniffs,” says his trainer Massimiliano Macera, quick to reward his furry pupil with treats every time the nose meets the tube.
“She already has it!” he said with a smile.
“Their job is play,” Macera added of her dogs. “These guys are already experts.”
(This story was not edited by UK Time News on Social Platforms.)