Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned of “devastating outbreaks” caused by the Delta variant of COVID-19 on Monday (July 12), saying the new strain of the virus was infecting people “at a scorching pace.”
“Last week marked the fourth consecutive week of increasing cases of COVID-19 globally,” Tedros said during a virtual press conference from Geneva, adding that “deaths are increasing again after ten weeks of declines.”
According to Xinhua, the virus variant first identified in India in October 2020 is spreading around the world and has now been detected in 104 countries.
“The Delta variant is tearing around the world at breakneck speed, causing a new spike in cases and deaths.”
Leaders around the world have reacted to the new surge in infections in a variety of ways, with some countries imposing new restrictions while others relax them. The United Kingdom (UK), for example, has stated that all restrictions will be lifted on July 19.
During a press conference on Monday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan warned of the dangers of loosening restrictions while many countries around the world continue to lack vaccines for their populations.
“The current collective strategy reminds me of a firefighting team battling a forest fire,” he explained. “While hosing down a portion of it may reduce the flames in one area, sparks will eventually travel and grow into a rolling furnace while it is smouldering anywhere.”
Tedros reaffirmed his call for governments to share vaccines, saying that “the world should fight together to put out this pandemic inferno everywhere.”