New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus over the coming months. “It is expected that it will rapidly out-compete other variants and become the dominant circulating lineage over the coming months,” the UN health agency said. The WHO also said there were more than 3.4 million new global cases of the COVID-19 last week, a 12 per cent increase from the previous week. “At this rate, it is expected that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks,” said the WHO. In the past week, the highest number of COVID infections were reported in Indonesia, Britain, Brazil, India and the United States, according to the WHO.
The WHO added the increased transmission of the virus is due to the new variants, the relaxation of COVID protocols and the large number of people still susceptible to the virus, despite rising vaccination rates in some countries. The organisation also urged countries to commit to vaccinating at least 40 per cent of every country’s population by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, India administered more than 20.83 lakh COVID vaccine doses on Wednesday, taking the cumulative vaccination coverage to over 41.76 crores, as per the Union Health Ministry. A total of 10,04,581 beneficiaries in the age group of 18 to 44 years got the first jabs and 95,964 got the second dose, the Ministry said.
The Kerala government said on Wednesday that the prevailing category-wise exemptions and restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19 will continue. The government added that no additional relaxations would be made. According to the government, it was of this view because of the directive of the Supreme Court to the state to pay heed to the right to life of citizens and the spread of coronavirus.
The state administration said in an order dated July 20 that there would be a full lockdown on July 24 and July 25 with the same guidelines issued during the earlier phase of lockdowns on weekends. The state recorded a total of 17,481 new cases and 105 deaths on Wednesday. The test positivity rate remained close to 12 per cent for the second consecutive day.
Several states including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh said on Wednesday that no COVID patients in the states died due to the shortage of medical oxygen.
“In Tamil Nadu, no one succumbed to the virus due to shortage of oxygen. That is the truth. There was a strong (COVID-19) regulation in place,” said Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “No (COVID) patient died due to lack of oxygen in the state. We filed an affidavit to this effect in the court also. We had diverted 100% oxygen meant for industrial use for medical purposes.”
Asked about the social media posts on COVID patients suffering due to lack of oxygen, Madhya Pradesh Health Minister Prabhuram Choudhary said, “It is true that there were problems with the availability of oxygen, but the state government ensured supply.”
“Not a single coronavirus patient died due to lack of oxygen in Gujarat. Hospitals in the state treated over 8.5 lakh patients during the second wave. Of these, 8.25 lakh patients went home after recovering,” said Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
The opposition parties on Wednesday hit out at the Centre over its statement that no deaths due to oxygen shortage were reported by states and Union Territories during the second COVID-19 wave and alleged that the government was trying to hide its mistakes by “lying”. Congress leader KC Venugopal said that Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana governments have admitted deaths due to a shortage of oxygen.
But the BJP accused the opposition parties of doing politics on the issue and pointed out their own governments in states did not report such fatalities.
The Delhi Police on Wednesday gave permission to farmers to stage demonstrations at Jantar Mantar subject to COVID norms. The farmers had sought permission to protest the central government’s three farm laws. More than 200 protesters from the Singhu border are expected to attend the protest every day from July 22.
Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections surged to a six-month high on Wednesday just two days before the Olympic Games open. Tokyo is currently under its fourth state of emergency that will last until August 22. This covers the entire duration of the Olympics that starts on Friday and end on August 8.
(With Inputs from Agencies)