Omicron: the risk remains “very high” according to the WHO, contamination records in several countries

The risk linked to the Omicron variant in the world “remains very high”, warned the World Health Organization on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, while France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece recorded contamination records. . The facts and the pictures.

Several countries have put in place new restrictions, including Finland which closes its borders to unvaccinated foreigners.

“The overall risk associated with the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high,” said the WHO in its weekly epidemiological bulletin, despite preliminary data suggesting a lower risk of hospitalization with Omicron.

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

France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece on Tuesday recorded new records of daily cases of Covid-19, evidence according to the authorities of the meteoric progress of Omicron.

New records

In France, nearly 180,000 cases have been identified in the last 24 hours. Daily record also in the United Kingdom, one of the European countries most affected by the pandemic, with nearly 130,000 contaminations in England and Wales. In Greece, the number of cases more than doubled compared to Monday.

Argentina has also seen a spectacular spread of the virus, with nearly 34,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, 10,000 more than the day before and six times more than a week ago. The government has so far ruled out new restrictive measures, but has introduced a health pass.

“A rapid rise in Omicron, like the one we are seeing in several countries, even if combined with a slightly less severe illness, will still lead to a large number of hospitalizations, especially among the unvaccinated,” said to AFP Catherine Smallwood, one of the main officials of WHO Europe.

The specialist called for taking the preliminary data on a lower risk of hospitalization “with caution” because for the time being the cases observed mainly concern “young and healthy populations in countries with high rates of vaccination”.

US health authorities have warned that antigenic tests for Covid-19, which have the advantage of delivering a result in just a few minutes, are less sensitive to the Omicron variant than to previous variants and therefore more likely to indicate a negative result despite infection.

As of December 31, President Joe Biden lifted the ban on entry into the United States for travelers from eight countries in southern Africa, the region where this variant appeared, now present throughout the world.

Besides Portugal, Omicron also now dominates infections in the Netherlands, where authorities have warned of “an increase in the number of hospital admissions”, and in Switzerland (around 55% of cases).

New restrictions

Faced with these uncertainties, several countries have imposed new restrictions.

China, which records a record number of contaminations within 40 days of the Beijing Winter Olympics, confined yesterday, Tuesday, December 28, 2021, several tens of thousands of additional people.

The city of Xi’an (north) was subjected yesterday to a sixth day of strict quarantine after a limited epidemic rebound.

300 km away, tens of thousands of residents in a district of Yan’an city have in turn been instructed to stay at home and businesses to close their doors.

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

Sweden requires from this Wednesday a negative Covid test to all travelers arriving in the territory. Finland has decided to go further by allowing entry into its territory only to foreign travelers with a negative Covid-19 test and who can prove a complete vaccination or a past infection. And in Norway, Christmas celebrations on the streets of Oslo have been curtailed.

South Africa, which announced last week the end of the tracing of contact cases of people tested positive for Covid-19, reversed this decision.

In France, new isolation rules for patients and their contacts will be set by the government “by the end of the week”, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Monday.

And in Germany, a new battery of measures entered into force on Tuesday. Private meetings of more than ten people – even vaccinated or cured – are prohibited. For the unvaccinated, the limit drops to two members of different outbreaks.

All sporting competitions will take place behind closed doors, which should concern the German championship when it resumes on January 7.

In a judgment published yesterday, Tuesday, the German Constitutional Court forced the state to take legislative measures to protect access to intensive care for people with disabilities in the event of medical “sorting” imposed by the pandemic.

In Belgium, the Council of State, the highest administrative court, suspended yesterday Tuesday the recent government decision to close theaters and theaters, considering that the need had not been demonstrated.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 5,404,577 people worldwide since the WHO office in China reported the onset of the disease at the end of December 2019, according to a report established by AFP in from official sources yesterday, Tuesday at 11 a.m. GMT.

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