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COVID-19 STATS

European health authorities warn of surge in Delta variant infections

European health officials are calling on countries to step up free testing and contact tracing to fight the Delta variant of Covid-19.

European health authorities warn of surge in Delta variant infections
A person receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Barcelona. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

WHO Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a joint appeal on Friday for “reinforced efforts” by European countries to check the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India.

“WHO recommends that countries increase access to free of charge testing, expand sequencing, incentivise quarantine for contacts and isolation for confirmed cases, strengthen contact tracing to break chains of transmission and ensure those most at risk among our populations are vaccinated,” the joint statement said.

It said data reported to WHO and the ECDC shows that between June 28th and July 22th the Delta variant was dominant in 19 countries of the 28 countries that reported sufficiently complete genetic sequencing information.

The number of cases surged this week by nine percent worldwide, up 26 percent in Europe and 60 percent in the United States, spurred on by the Delta variant, according to an AFP survey.

The ECDC, which tracks the 27 EU countries and three non-EU countries, said it raised from low to moderate its level of concern for the pandemic in Europe and expressed a high level of concern for four countries: Spain, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus.

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COVID-19

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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