COVID-19 deaths and cases are on the rise again around the world, causing another round of restrictions and dampening hopes for a return to normalcy.
The World Health Organization
reported on Wednesday that deaths increased last week after a nine-week decline, with more than 55,000 people
killed, a 3% increase from the previous week.
According to the WHO, the number of cases increased 10% last week to nearly 3 million, with the highest numbers recorded in Brazil
, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom
The reversal has been attributed to low vaccination rates, relaxation of mask rules and other precautions, and the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant
, which has now been identified in 111 countries and is expected to become globally dominant in the coming months, according to the WHO.
State University professor of public health
Sarah McCool described the combination as a "recipe for a potential tinderbox."
“It is critical that we recognize that COVID has the potential for explosive outbreaks,” Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University
The death toll
in hard-hit Argentina
surpassed 100,000 this week, while daily coronavirus
deaths in Russia
reached record highs. In Belgium
, COVID-19 infections, driven by the delta variant among the young, nearly doubled over the past week, while Britain recorded a one-day total of more than 40,000 new cases for the first time
in six months.
Crematoriums are open from morning to night in Myanmar
, and people near Jakarta are pitching in to help gravediggers keep up in Indonesia, which recorded nearly 1,000 deaths and over 54,000 new cases Wednesday, up from around 8,000 cases per day a month ago.
“Because the diggers are tired and do not have enough resources to dig,” Jaya Abidin explained, “the residents in my neighborhood decided to help, because if we do not, we will have to wait a long time for a burial.”
In the United States
, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, newly confirmed infections per day have more than doubled in the last two weeks to an average of around 24,000, though deaths are still on the decline, at around 260 per day.
Los Angeles County
, the most populous in the country, reported more than 1,000 new cases for the fifth day in a row on Tuesday.
has declared a fourth state of emergency ahead of the Summer Olympics this month, with infections on the rise and hospital
beds quickly filling up; experts predict that caseloads will exceed 1,000 before the Olympics
and reach thousands during the games.
The increase has resulted in additional restrictions in places such as Sydney, Australia
, where the 5 million residents will be kept under lockdown until at least the end of July, two weeks longer than planned; and South Korea has imposed its strictest distancing rules yet in the Seoul area due to record case levels.
Parts of Spain
, including Barcelona, have imposed an overnight curfew, and London Mayor
Sadiq Khan has stated that masks
will be required on buses and trains
even after other restrictions in England
are lifted next week, while Italy
has warned all visitors that they may be quarantined before returning home
travelers must be quarantined for 10 days or have a negative COVID-19 test, according to Chicago
lawmakers voted Wednesday to renew Democratic
Gov. Ned Lamont's emergency declarations, despite pushback from Republicans
and some Democrats
who argued it was time to return to normalcy. The move, among other things, keeps orders requiring masks in certain settings in place.
The measure was implemented Tuesday at Fort Rucker, home of the Army's aviation program, in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, which has been attributed to low vaccination rates.
Even though the figures from around the world are troubling, they are still far lower than the alarming figures from earlier this year.
According to Johns Hopkins data, seven months into the vaccination campaign, global deaths have dropped to around 7,900 per day, from over 18,000 per day in January, while cases have dropped by half since their peak in late April
The WHO acknowledged that many countries are now under "considerable pressure" to lift all remaining precautions, but warned that failing to do so correctly will simply give the virus more time to spread.
To combat the rise in vaccination rates, pressure is mounting around the world.
“If you've been waiting, if you've been on the fence, sign
up and get that shot as soon as possible,” said New York City
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
, an eighteen-year-old actress and singer, appeared at the White House
on Wednesday as part of President Joe Biden
's effort to persuade more young people that getting vaccinated is something "you can do more easily than ever before."
While nearly 160 million Americans, or more than 55% of the population, have been fully vaccinated, young adults have shown less enthusiasm.
is planning another prize program to encourage vaccinations
, and Gov. Mike DeWine
has urged the government to give the vaccines
full approval rather than just emergency authorization in order to alleviate public concern.
“The reality is that we now have two Ohios,” said Bruce Vanderhoff, the state’s chief medical officer. “One is vaccinated and protected, and the other is unvaccinated and vulnerable to delta.”
has already begun a COVID-19 vaccine
sweepstakes, with the first four $50,000 winners announced on Wednesday, with larger prizes, including a $2 million jackpot
, on the way.
In Missouri, which ranks second only to Arkansas in terms of COVID-19 diagnosis rate, political leaders in and around St. Louis
have increased efforts to get people vaccinated through gift cards and by enlisting beauty salons and barbershops to disseminate information.