As some EU countries move to ease Covid-19 travel restrictions over the summer, the Delta variant spread increasingly across the continent.
The new strain, which first emerged in India, takes hold in the UK and Portugal, raising concerns over the summer opening.
In Britain, 90 per cent of Covid-19 infections detected in the past week are estimated to be of the Delta variant, pushing UK authorities to delay a planned easing of restrictions by a month.
In Portugal, the Delta variant now accounts for 60 per cent of infections in Lisbon.
Germany warned its citizens not to travel to London, otherwise, the Covid-19 restrictions will be reimposed again across the country.
“Vaccinate, take precautions, test. This is what can make it possible to bring the number of infections down further, and to keep them there throughout the summer,” the German health ministry said.
Earlier last week, the World Health Organization expressed deep concern about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions by countries hosting Euro 2020 matches.
The UN organisation regretted “that some stadiums hosting the Euro2021 tournament are currently raising the number of spectators allowed to see a match.”
“In some of the host cities, COVID-19 cases are already on the rise in areas where matches are played,” Robb Butler, executive director of WHO Europe, said in a written statement.
“This particular Delta variant is faster, it is fitter, it will pick off the more vulnerable more efficiently than previous variants,” World Health Organisation (WHO) executive director Mike Ryan said.
Although the organisation didn’t cite any country, in particular, the statements came as British authorities declared that more than 60,000 fans will be allowed into the semifinals and final of the European Championship at Wembley Stadium.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also warned that the highly contagious Delta variant of the new coronavirus is expected to account for 90 per cent of the new COVID-19 cases in the European Union.
“It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination,” Andrea Ammon, the centre’s director, said in a statement.
“By the end of August, it will represent 90 per cent of new cases in the EU,” she added.