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World Health Organization Says Delta Variant Driving “Fourth Wave” In Middle East

Infections have increased by 55 percent, and deaths by 15 percent, as per reports.

CAIRO — The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns over the “fourth” wave that several middle eastern countries are facing.

The delta variant has led to a surge in coronavirus outbreaks triggering a “fourth wave” in the Middle East, where vaccination rates remain low, said the World Health Organization.

“The circulation of the Delta variant is fueling the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in an increasing number of countries in WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region,” the global health body said in a statement. “It is now being reported in 15 out of the 22 countries of the Region.”

The Delta variant is becoming the dominant strain of the virus in several of these countries, with infections mostly being reported among people who have yet to be vaccinated. It is more transmissible than the original virus and other detected variants of concern, the World Health Organization said.

“The rapid spread of the Delta variant across the Eastern Mediterranean Region and all other WHO regions are a major cause for concern,” said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The number of new cases and deaths has increased in recent weeks. Most of the new cases and hospitalized patients are unvaccinated people. We are now in the fourth wave of Covid-19 across the Region.”

Infections have increased by 55 percent, and deaths by 15 percent, in the last month, compared to the month before, and more than 310,000 cases and 3,500 deaths have been recorded weekly, as per reports.

Countries such as Tunisia, which has suffered the biggest number of Covid-19 deaths in North Africa, have been struggling to contain the outbreak. Critical shortages of oxygen tanks and intensive care beds have stretched the capacities of healthcare systems regionally.

WHO said the rapid spread of the Delta variant was quickly making it “the dominant strain” in the region.

The amount of virus found in the first tests of patients with the Delta variant was 1,000 times higher than patients in the first wave of the virus in 2020, greatly increasing its contagiousness, as per a recent paper published in the journal Virology.

The WHO said that amid the global shortages and grossly inequitable distribution of vaccines, it encourages higher-income countries to donate doses to the low and lower-middle-income countries.

WHO has set a target for 10 percent of the population of all countries to be fully vaccinated by September, 40 percent by the end of 2021, and 70 percent by mid-2022.

But this target will not be achieved unless high-income countries, many of which have already exceeded these targets, are willing to donate vaccines, the statement said.

(With inputs from ANI) 

Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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