The Spanish region of Catalonia was on Saturday set to reimpose virus restrictions in the face of rising coronavirus infections, as the highly contagious Delta strain forced nations worldwide to put the brakes on a long-awaited return to normalcy.
The highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is sweeping the globe as countries race to inoculate their populations to ward off fresh outbreaks that are increasingly affecting the unvaccinated young.
Nightclubs will be closed as of this weekend and a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination will be needed to take part in outdoor activities involving more than 500 people.
Also set to reimpose controls Saturday is the Netherlands, where infections rose sevenfold in one week, a surge officials have blamed on the Delta variant.
But the new measures did not mean the Netherlands would return to a lockdown or curfew as in previous months, and Rutte promised the Dutch people could still enjoy a “beautiful summer”.
Officials were equally optimistic despite a surge of cases in Thailand, which will impose a 9 pm to 4 am curfew on Bangkok and nine other provinces Monday to stem a severe third wave of infections that kicked off in April.
Residents will also be barred from gathering in groups of more than five people, while public transport networks will shut down from 9 pm each night. Supermarkets, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and electronics stores within malls can stay open but other shops must close.
Hospitals are struggling to cope, with many now refusing new patients, leaving scores to die at home, while desperate relatives hunt for oxygen tanks to treat the sick.
Authorities said Friday that medics would be given a third booster jab using the vaccine made by US company Moderna, to provide them extra protection.
Despite the slow resumption of activities in the United States and parts of Europe, the virus continues to wage devastation everywhere from Africa to South America, exposing crucial vaccine supply shortages for some of the world’s most vulnerable and accelerating efforts to expand access.
And Cuba approved its home-grown Abdala vaccine for emergency use, the first Latin American coronavirus jab to do so and a possible lifeline for a region trying to battle a killer pandemic with modest means.
burs-oho / lb