Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Delta surge forces new virus restrictions

Delta surge forces new virus restrictions

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Delta surge forces new virus restrictions. AFP

Delta surge forces new virus restrictions

France and Greece on July 12 joined countries that are reimposing tighter Covid-19 restrictions to stem the surge of Delta variant infections threatening the global fight against the pandemic.

The virus has killed more than four million people since first emerging in late 2019, and attempts to halt its spread are being hampered by mutations creating highly contagious variants such as Delta, first seen in India.

Vaccines are seen as the best way to allow economies to reopen while keeping the public safe. But patchy roll-outs of the jabs – whether through lack of supplies, vaccine hesitancy or slow government responses – threaten global efforts to escape the pandemic.

European governments are turning to more coercive measures to get more of their populations to sign up for the jabs.

The cautious approach in the EU stands in contrast to that in London, where the government confirmed plans to lift most curbs in England by July 19 – a day Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dubbed “Freedom Day”.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own Covid response policies.

While some scientists fret that ending measures such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing spells trouble, health secretary Sajid Javid said the link between infections and deaths was “severely weakened” with more than two-thirds of the UK population fully protected,

Daily new infections are running at more than 30,000 in the UK, with average deaths in single digits, National Health Service (NHS) data show.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a national address, said that healthcare staff, retirement home employees and others working with vulnerable people will have to get jabbed by September.

He also announced that from next month, anyone wanting to go out to eat or drink, visit a shopping centre or attend a festival, theatre show or cinema screening will need to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The prospect of having to take a test for every meal or drink out appeared to have an instant impact on many unvaccinated French people.

The Doctolib site used to book shots said after Macron’s address that a record 20,000 appointments were being taken every minute.

Greece is also ordering mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations of all health workers, including those working in retirement homes, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on July 12.

Only 4.3 million of Greece’s population of 10.7 million have been fully vaccinated.

“The country is not going to close down because of the attitude of some people,” Mitsotakis said.

And the Spanish tourist regions of Catalonia and Valencia also announced new measures.

“The data are more than worrying, they are frankly very, very bad,” Catalonia’s public health secretary Josep Maria Argimon said, announcing curbs.

Macron said his government’s aim was to recognise the “civicism” of those who had been vaccinated while “putting in restrictions on the non-vaccinated rather than on everyone”.

Around 35.5 million people – just over half of France’s population – has received at least one vaccine dose, while 27 million have had two.

Highlighting the stark divisions the pandemic has created globally, UN agencies warned the outbreak threatened a lasting calamity for the world’s children and was fuelling historic spikes in hunger.

Schools remain shut in 19 countries, affecting 156 million children in what risks being “a generational catastrophe”, the heads of two UN agencies, UNICEF and UNESCO, warned.

Another UN report on July 12 said the pandemic had resulted in an estimated 18 per cent increase in the number of people facing hunger.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) took a swipe at the senseless “greed” of rich countries leaving vast swathes of the global poor unprotected.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic would end soon “but for the lack of decisive global leadership”.

Vaccine nationalism was “prolonging the agony” and there was only “one word that can explain this … it’s greed”, Tedros said.

While not naming countries, the WHO blasted those considering Covid-19 booster vaccinations while the most vulnerable in other nations were left exposed to the virus.

Israel, for example, on July 12 began administering a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to patients with compromised immune systems.

The UN’s health agency also scolded vaccine manufacturers prioritising deals for boosters rather than first and second shots for unvaccinated health care workers and elderly people in poorer nations.

“Instead of Moderna and Pfizer prioritising the supply of vaccines as boosters to countries whose populations have relatively high coverage, we need them to go all-out to channel supply to Covax,” he said.

He was referring to the international programme that is seeking to provide equitable access to doses for the most vulnerable.

Two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinovac and Sinopharm, have agreed to immediately begin making more than 100 million Covid vaccine doses available to Covax.

“Thanks to this deal … we can move to start supplying doses to countries immediately,” said Seth Berkley, who heads the Gavi alliance – one of the partners behind Covax.


  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision