By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: Governments of various countries in Africa and the entire world at large have issued fresh orders on COVID-19 SOPs and tightened restrictions on their population to fight a resurgence in the new variant of coronavirus, from local curfews to alcohol bans and complete lockdowns, trying to tackle a surge in cases.
The coronavirus has killed more than 1.8 million people globally since emerging in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources.
But experts fear the worst is yet to come, predicting a sharp rise in infections and deaths after weeks of holiday gatherings.
In Bangkok, the city’s nightlife shut down following a ban on bars, nightclubs and restaurant alcohol sales, among a raft of restrictions aimed at curbing the kingdom’s rising virus toll.
Public schools in the Thai capital are to close for two weeks.
An outbreak last month at a seafood market has led to a resurgence of the virus in Thailand, with infections detected in 53 of the kingdom’s 77 provinces.
In Tokyo, the city’s governor on Saturday asked Japan’s government to declare a new state of emergency as the country battles a third wave, with record numbers of new cases.
And South Korea extended its anti-virus curbs until January 17 in the greater Seoul area, including a ban on gatherings of more than four people, which will be widened to cover the whole country.
The soaring number of infections around the world means the race to vaccinate is set to dominate the coming year.
Delays in getting the vaccines in Europe were not the fault of the European Union, said the bloc’s health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
“The bottleneck at the moment is not the volume of orders but the worldwide shortage of production capacity,” she said.
India on Sunday authorized the emergency use of two vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and by local pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech.
In the US, the vaccination program has been beset by logistical problems, while the world’s worst-hit country on Friday passed 20 million cases.
The US has seen a worrying surge in coronavirus infections in recent months and on Saturday saw its highest number yet recorded in one day, with more than 277,000.
In Russia, health minister Mikhail Murashko said more than 800,000 people had received the domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine and that 1.5 million doses had been distributed throughout the country of around 147 million.
Norway, which has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, on Saturday began requiring COVID-19 tests upon arrival into the country, after finding five cases of a new coronavirus variant that first emerged in Britain.
Denmark discovered 86 cases of the new variant, which is believed to be more contagious, while Vietnam also detected the strain.
The tiny British enclave of Gibraltar, off Spain, went into a 14-day lockdown Saturday. Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the virus was spreading “more quickly than we can control it.”
Greece has extended until January 10 its strict two-month lockdown measures, ending an easing of restrictions over the holiday period.