Strict measures, mini-blockages and various restrictions – this is how Europe prepares for the holidays against the backdrop of the rapid onset of the Omicron strain.
Commenting on the spread of the Omicron mutation, the WHO speaks of “a storm with an increase in the number of cases in Europe.” Some countries in the EU are introducing mini-quarantines on the eve of Christmas, others are postponing the introduction of restrictions “until later”, after the New Year.
Israel has announced the fourth dose of vaccinations against Covid-19 for healthcare workers and the 60+ age group.
In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Salz announced yesterday the government’s plan to fight the coronavirus and new measures. He stressed that this is not the time to celebrate when a new strain is spreading to ever larger territories. Therefore, on Christmas and New Year’s days there will be no big parties, only no more than 10 people can be celebrated together (not counting children under 14), clubs and stadiums will be closed, and football matches and other major competitions will be held with empty spectator stands.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to postpone the restrictions for the post-holiday period. Despite the fact that the situation is quite difficult. He only called on citizens to take responsibility, be careful and follow the instructions – to ventilate the premises and not forget about self-testing before visiting relatives. The UK has raised the alarm over the Omicron mutation, which is on the rise. At the moment, 14 people have died from it, 129 are being treated.
In Denmark, the omicron mutation predominates among new cases of coronavirus, just a month after its detection. In a country of 5.8 million people, 13,558 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours, an unprecedented number. More than 500 of them are re-infections, according to health authorities. In this regard, the Scandinavian country has accelerated the vaccination campaign and introduced restrictive measures, closing cultural and entertainment venues for 4 weeks.
The Norwegian Ministry of Health announced a fourfold increase in Omicron cases in just one week, from just over 900 infections on December 13 to 3871 last Monday. But so far, all infected people do not have a severe form, and they do not need treatment.
Sweden will ask all employees to switch to teleworking from home, if possible. It also plans to introduce stricter social distancing measures, the government announced yesterday, Tuesday. New restrictive measures include requirements for restaurants, bars and public events organizers to have seating for visitors only. This means that nightclubs are likely to have to temporarily close.
Earlier, other restrictive measures were reinstated in the country, for example, masks on public transport. In recent weeks, the number of new cases in the country, as reported by ΑΠΕ ΜΠΕ, has increased. At the same time, the forecasts of the health authorities are disappointing – in the coming weeks the number of new infections will continue to grow and will peak in January. Projections released today suggest that Sweden could have more than 15,000 cases a day in mid-January.
In Spain, almost half of new coronavirus cases are in Omicron. The Ministry of Health asks citizens to reduce their activity on the holidays and try to spend these days in a family circle, without a large number of guests. According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, 49,823 cases of coronavirus were recorded in one day, and the Omicron mutation caused almost half of them. Between December 6-12, 47% of cases were associated with Omicron.
US President Joe Biden assured yesterday that the country is “ready” to resist the Omicron mutation and there is no reason to “panic”, at least for vaccinated Americans:
“We should all be concerned about Omicron, not panic. We are no longer in March 2020. We are ready”.
The American president noted that, compared to the beginning of the pandemic, there are “three main differences”: vaccines, the abundance of personal protective equipment for medical staff and the accumulated knowledge about the virus. He called vaccination a “patriotic duty,” warning those who did not get the vaccine that they were putting themselves and their loved ones in danger:
“Vaccinated people infected with Covid-19 can get sick, but are protected from serious illness and death, and should feel comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as planned.”
Travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi are currently prohibited from entering the United States.
Greek authorities offer two free self-test tests all citizens during the Christmas and New Year holidays and abandon the idea of ”rapid test for vaccinated in restaurants and closed entertainment establishments.” “Depending on how the pandemic develops, we have a number of options at our disposal, such as extending teleworking, changing restaurant and entertainment hours. However, we are against the suspension of schools. But all, I emphasize, will show the data at that time. No decision has been made yet, ”said Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis.