Covid-19 sees record rise in Europe, Asia

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Even as many countries have completely relaxed Covid restrictions in the hope of returning to normalcy, infections have begun gaining momentum, particularly in Europe and Asia.

This has fuelled concerns about the possibility of another global surge, which scientists, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have been warning.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy were among those that saw an upswing in cases this past week, USA Today reported.

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Germany saw a spike in cases from a low of 1,570 cases per million people on March 2 to 2,330 cases per million people as of March 12, and cases in the Netherlands are up from a recent low of 1,956 cases per million people Feb. 27 up to 3,955 cases per million people March 12, the data shows.

Among the countries whose data has charted an increase in cases, some have also seen a rise in hospitalizations, including Ireland, the UK, and the Netherlands.

Latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that Covid infections are increasing across the UK with about one in 25 people infected, the BBC reported.

In Scotland, 300,000 people — one in 18 — have coronavirus, the highest level recorded during the pandemic, while in Wales one in 30 people is testing positive, and in Northern Ireland one in 13 people.

The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid also began rising last week, and on 9 March 1,521 were admitted in England – the highest number since the end of January, the Guardian reported.

Scientists blame the rise on the BA.2 version of Omicron, which is more transmissible. And as more people are mixing socially and the effectiveness of booster vaccines is also starting to wane. They argued the need for a fourth dose, for the elderly.

The possibility of a new variant or a spike in cases always exists given the nature of viruses, said Ogbonnaya Omenka, an assistant professor and director of diversity at the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Science.

“Because it is an infectious disease, unless we eradicate it, there is bound to be that possibility of its return … As the virus variants have shown, even the possible return is not predictable in terms of its severity or degree of similarity to the previous forms,” Omenka told USA Today.

He added the wave may likely spread to “the US as well”.

Meanwhile, China is facing its severest domestic Covid-19 outbreaks in two years with a record 1,807 new cases reported on Sunday, the Global Times reported.

The latest spikes in Jilin, Shandong, Guangdong provinces, Shanghai, and Beijing municipalities, which forced several major cities to go into lockdowns, saw a sharp rise in the number of asymptomatic patients.

The daily increase in asymptomatic infections exceeded the daily increase in confirmed cases for six consecutive days from March 7 to 12.

The Omicron variant has replaced Delta to become the dominant strain in the country, the report said.

Other Asian countries seeing a record surge in Covid cases include South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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