COVID: World Cup gatherings could spur Brazil’s latest wave


Brazil faces a new wave of COVID-19 infections just as the football-mad nation is massing to watch the World Cup, with new coronavirus sub-variants and vaccine delays. Increased alarm for public health professionals.

On World Cup days, many Brazilians take time off work to go to bars and restaurants or gather at home barbecues to watch matches or cheer on a title-seeking national team. sixth world championship in Qatar.

According to official figures, new COVID-19 cases in Brazil rose 230% last week from early November to levels not seen since August. Related deaths rose to 116 on Tuesday from a number in October.

“At every gathering there is a high chance of transmission because it is so easy to get it,” said Margareth Dalcolmo at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a biomedical research center in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian health regulator ANVISA announced late Tuesday that face masks will be required again at airports and on all flights to prevent the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, it also decided to approve the use of two new vaccines manufactured by Pfizer Inc to protect against Omicron sub-variants BA.1 and BA.4/BA.5 as well as the virus. Originally, used as a booster.

Experts say delays in rolling out vaccines to tackle new highly infectious variants have increased infections.

Nearly 690,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, the world’s second-highest official death toll after the United States.

New infections in Brazil are mainly caused by the BQ.1 strain of the BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron that causes milder symptoms in fully vaccinated individuals. Health officials say that is likely to lead to fewer deaths than in previous waves, even though hospitals are taking on a growing number of patients.

With Brazil’s debut in Qatar on Thursday, experts are recommending that fans wear masks if they stay indoors and take all necessary hygiene precautions to avoid infection.

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