Global rise in COVID-19 cases: European countries, China see fresh spike

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Updated: Mar 31, 2022, 08:16 AM(IST)

Covid in China Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Shanghai expanded its shut downs to some western sections of the city earlier than planned on Wednesday (March 30), citing a total of 5,982 additional local cases.

After a month of decline, COVID-19 cases began to rise around the world last week, with lockdowns in Asia and China struggling to contain an outbreak.

In March, the BA.2 variant of the more infectious Omicron was thought to be rapidly spreading in portions of Europe and China.

This month has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In Asia, the situation in Hong Kong, the financial capital, appears to be stabilising.

Shanghai is the latest hotspot on mainland China, with numbers hovering around 4,400.

Some businesses in the United States, where warnings have already been given about an impending rise, are gearing up for back-to-work mode.

Shanghai expanded its shut downs to some western sections of the city earlier than planned on Wednesday (March 30), citing a total of 5,982 additional local cases.

Also read | 'Stealth Omicron': BA.2 is now globally dominant Covid variant

Shanghai, which has a population of 26 million people, is on its third day of a lockdown imposed by officials who have divided the city approximately along the Huangpu River, separating the historic centre from the eastern financial and industrial sector of Pudong to allow for staggered testing. 

On March 29, the city reported a new high of 5,656 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 326 symptomatic cases, up from 4,381 new asymptomatic cases and 96 new symptomatic cases the day before. 

The topic "Pudong pandemic" was one of the top trending items on the Chinese Weibo social media platform. A widely shared video showed a robotic dog with a loudhailer strapped on to its back walking around the empty streets of a housing compound, reminding residents to take necessary precautions.

Watch | Shanghai tightens COVID lockdown: Curbs imposed on highway traffic

What is the BA.2 variant?  

Amid the surge in Omicron cases, British health officials had earlier detected growing cases of BA.2 variant. In total, Omicron has three sub-strains: BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3.

As it is slightly harder to track, BA.2 is also called the "stealth variant". Due to a missing gene, BA.1 is tracked through a common PCR test by default due to a missing gene. While BA.2 and another sibling, BA.3 can be found only by genomic sequencing.   

According to the World Health Organization, BA.2 now represents around 86% of all sequenced cases. It is more transmissible than other sub-variants, like BA.1 and BA.1.1. But the evidence so far suggests that it is less likely to cause a severe infection.  

(With inputs from agencies)

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