Covid-19 deaths and cases are on the rise again globally in a dispiriting setback that is triggering another round of restrictions and dampening hopes for a return to normal life. The WHO reported on Wednesday that deaths climbed last week after nine straight weeks of decline. It recorded over 55,000 lives lost, a 3% increase from the week before. Cases rose 10% last week to nearly 3 million, with the highest numbers recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Britain, WHO said.

The reversal has been attributed to low vaccination rates, the relaxation of mask rules and other precautions, and the swift spread of the more-contagious delta variant, which WHO said has now been identified in 111 countries and is expected to become globally dominant in the coming months. “Unfortunately, we’re now in early stages of a third wave,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Amid the surge, the death toll in hard-hit Argentina surpassed 100,000. Daily coronavirus deaths in Russia hit record highs this week. Britain recorded a one-day total of more than 40,000 new cases for the first time in six months. In Myanmar, crematoriums are working morning to night. In Indonesia, which recorded almost 1,000 deaths and over 54,000 new cases on Wednesday, up from around 8,000 cases per day a month ago, people near Jakarta are pitching in to help gravediggers keep up.

As troubling as the global figures are, they are still well below the alarming numbers seen earlier this year. Seven months into the vaccine drive, global deaths are down to around 7,900 a day, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January, as per Johns Hopkins data. Cases are running at around 4,50,000 a day, down by half since their peak in April. AP

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