COVID-19: Omicron, ‘extremely high’ risk according to WHO

Paris | The COVID-19 pandemic has surged in recent days, with global pollution records over the past week, and the World Health Organization on Wednesday warning of a “very high” risk linked to the alternative Omicron.

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On average, more than 935,000 cases of COVID-19 were detected every day between December 22 and 28, a number unreached since the start of the pandemic at the end of 2019 which is a 37% increase compared to the previous week, according to the AFP statistics from official reports.

The World Health Organization noted in its weekly epidemiological bulletin that “the overall risk associated with the new worrisome variant omicron remains very high,” despite preliminary data indicating a low risk of hospitalizations associated with omicron.

“Reliable evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the delta variant at a rate of two to three days.”

The majority of new infections were found in Europe with several countries reporting new daily case records on Tuesday.

new records

In France, nearly 180,000 cases have been identified in the past 24 hours. Daily record is also in the UK, with nearly 130,000 infections in England and Wales. Spain has also reached an unparalleled level of contamination (nearly 100,000) and in Greece, the number of cases has doubled compared to the two.

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Argentina has also seen a staggering spread of the virus, with nearly 34,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, 10,000 more than the previous day and six times more than last week, but the government has so far ruled out new restrictive measures.

“A rapid rise in omicron, like the one we’re seeing in many countries, even if combined with a slightly less severe disease, will still result in a significant number of hospitalizations, especially among the unvaccinated,” Catherine Smallwood told AFP. One of the main officials of the World Health Organization in Europe.

The specialist called for taking preliminary data on the low risk of hospitalization “with caution”, because the cases observed at the present time mainly concern “young and healthy people in countries with high vaccination rates.”

US health officials have warned that COVID-19 antigen tests, with rapid results, are less sensitive to the Omicron variant than previous variants and therefore are more likely to indicate a negative result despite infection.

Effective December 31, President Joe Biden lifted the ban on entry to the United States for travelers from eight countries in South Africa, the region in which this variant emerged, now located around the world.

new restrictions

Many countries have put in place strict new restrictions.

China, which is recording an epidemic outbreak within 40 days of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, confined tens of thousands more people on Tuesday.

After the city of Xi’an (north) underwent a strict quarantine for a week, several tens of thousands of residents of a district of Yan’an City, 300 kilometers from Xi’an, were instructed on Tuesday to stay in the city. The house, where businesses should be closed.

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China on Tuesday reported 209 new patients within 24 hours, the highest number in 21 months.

Sweden has required a negative Covid test since Tuesday for all travelers arriving in its territory. Finland has decided to go ahead by allowing entry only to foreign travelers who have tested negative for Covid-19 and who can prove full vaccination or previous infection.

South Africa, which announced last week that it was ending contact tracing of people who tested positive for COVID-19, reversed that decision.

In France, after Monday’s announcement of the “compulsory” recourse to remote work “where possible” and the ban on concerts, the government decided on Wednesday to extend the closure of nightclubs in force since December 10 by three weeks in January. New isolation rules for patients and their contacts should be in place by the end of the week.

And in Germany, a new set of measures came into effect on Tuesday, such as banning private meetings of more than a dozen people who have been vaccinated or recovered. For the unvaccinated, the limit drops to two members from different outbreaks. All sports competitions will be held behind closed doors.

In a ruling published on Tuesday, Germany’s Constitutional Court ordered the state to take legislative measures to protect access to intensive care for people with disabilities in the event of medical “triage” imposed by the pandemic.

In Belgium, the Council of State, the highest administrative court, on Tuesday suspended the government’s latest decision to close cinemas and galleries, saying the need had not been proven.

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In the two years since the virus was discovered, more than 282 million cases of COVID-19 have been officially detected worldwide, resulting in more than 5.4 million deaths. The number of deaths related to COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization, taking into account the increase in deaths directly and indirectly related to Covid-19, could be two to three times higher.

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