COVID-19 vaccine
An elderly woman receives a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Netanya, Israel Image Credit: Reuters

Just when the world had started to breathe easy after more than two years of the pandemic, Covid-19 infections have registered a spike across parts of Europe. In the UK and some areas of Scotland, nearly 1 of every 20 people may be at risk, new figures show.

Though the trend in Northern Ireland is “uncertain”, across the UK as a whole, 3.3 million people were estimated to have been infected with the coronavirus last week, up from 2.6 million the previous week, the UK Office for National Statistics noted.

The latest figures have been dubbed as a “sharp uptick”. The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy are among countries where the number of cases has seen a spurt in recent weeks. There has also been a rise in hospitalisations in Ireland and the Netherlands.

China too posted a steep jump in daily Covid-19 infections, with new cases more than doubling in some cities after as the virus outbreak started to expand. Although the country’s total caseload is still tiny by global standards, other nations are pulling their socks up.

Highly contagious Omicron variant

In the US, health experts are warning of an emerging, highly contagious Covid Omicron variant, called BA.2, that could soon lead to another uptick in domestic coronavirus cases. White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said BA.2 is about 50 per cent to 60 per cent more transmissible than Omicron, but it does not appear to be more severe.

The UAE, on the other hand, has done a remarkable job of containing the virus till date. The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) noted on Monday that no Covid-19-related deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours, with the total number of deaths remaining unchanged at 2,302.

Overall globally, scientists have attributed the increase in Covid cases to the quick-spreading BA. 2 subvariant, the widespread removal of Covid restrictions, and to waning immunity from vaccinations and infections in many countries.

Though the rise in cases and the new variant might not have a severe impact, it is important to stop the spread. We must remember that greater the number of infections in a community, the virus gets more chances to acquire new properties and take us back to square one.

It is absolutely critical that we continue to stress coronavirus vaccines. Boosters remain the best ways to prevent serious illness from the virus.