The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that the risk associated with the Omicron variant in the world “remains very high,” while France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece have pollution records.
Several countries have put in place new restrictions, including Finland which is closing its borders to unvaccinated foreigners.
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• Read also: The World Health Organization expects a “significant number” of hospitalizations, even if Omicron turns out to be less serious
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.
WHO adds: “Reliable evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the delta variant at a multiplication rate of two to three days,” noting that “a rapid increase in the incidence of cases has been observed in a number of countries.”
France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece on Tuesday set new records of daily COVID-19 cases, evidence according to authorities of Omicron’s meteoric advance.
In France, nearly 180,000 cases have been identified in the past 24 hours. A daily record was also recorded in the United Kingdom, one of the European countries worst affected by the epidemic, with nearly 130 thousand infections in England and Wales. In Greece, the number of cases has more than doubled compared to the two.
Argentina has also seen a massive spread of the virus, with nearly 34,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, up 10,000 from the previous day and six times more than last week, but the government has for now 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.
And the specialist called for taking preliminary data on the low risk of hospitalization “with caution”, because the cases observed at the moment mainly concern “young and healthy people in countries with high vaccination rates.”
US health authorities have warned that COVID-19 antigen tests, which have the advantage of providing a result in just a few minutes, are less sensitive to the Omicron variant than previous variants and therefore 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.
Besides Portugal, infections are now dominated by Omicron in the Netherlands, where authorities have warned of an “increased number of hospitalizations”, and in Switzerland (about 55% of cases).
In the face of these uncertainties, several countries have imposed new restrictions.
China, which recorded a record number of infections within 40 days of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, registered tens of thousands of additional people on Tuesday.
The city of Xi’an (North) was subjected to the sixth day of strict quarantine on Tuesday after a limited epidemiological recovery.
300 kilometers away, tens of thousands of residents of Yan’an City District have been instructed to stay in their homes and businesses to close their doors.
China on Tuesday reported 209 new patients within 24 hours, the highest number in 21 months.
Sweden will require from Tuesday that all travelers arriving in the territory be tested negative for COVID. Finland has decided to go ahead by allowing entry into its territory only for foreign travelers with a negative COVID-19 test who can prove full vaccination or previous infection.
South Africa, which announced last week that it was ending contact tracing of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, reversed that decision.
French Prime Minister Jean Castix announced on Monday that the government will establish new isolation rules for patients and their contacts “by the end of the week”.
And in Germany, a new set of measures went into effect on Tuesday. Private meetings of more than ten people – even after they have been vaccinated or cured – are prohibited. For the unvaccinated, the limit drops to two members from different outbreaks.
All sports competitions will be held behind closed doors, which should belong to the German championship when it resumes on January 7.
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.
The COVID-19 epidemic has killed at least 5,404,577 worldwide since the WHO office in China reported the outbreak at the end of December 2019, according to an AFP report from official sources Tuesday at 11 a.m. GMT. .
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