World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that the delta variant of the novel coronavirus has been identified in at least 85 countries and “is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far . . . and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations.” He also said, “As some countries ease public health and social measures, we are starting to see increases in transmission around the world.”
“It’s quite simple: more transmission, more variants. Less transmission, less variants,” the WHO chief said. “That makes it even more urgent that we use all the tools at our disposal to prevent transmission: the tailored and consistent use of public health and social measures, in combination with equitable vaccination.
Meanwhile, health officials say a new strain of the delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, has emerged in almost a dozen countries, including India, the United States, and the U.K. The new variant has been dubbed Delta Plus. Authorities fear Delta Plus may be even more contagious the delta variant. Scientists are just beginning to study the new strain.
Australia’s biggest city has been ordered into a two-week lockdown because of a growing number of COVID-19 cases. Health authorities in Sydney are fighting to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious delta variant. Stay-at-home orders will also apply to other areas in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. It is the first lockdown in Sydney since December. Australia has consistently maintained very low rates of coronavirus transmission. The latest outbreak is linked to a limousine driver at Sydney airport.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Saturday that the global count of COVID-19 cases has reached more than 180 million. The U.S. continues to have the most infections with 33.6 million, followed closely by India with 30.1 million and Brazil with 18.3 million.
Johns Hopkins said 2.8 billion vaccines have been administered.
Phil Mercer contributed to this report.