American travelers line up at the TSA security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, just before Christmas, on December 22, 2021. All 50 states have detected the Omicron variant, and millions are expected to travel during the holidays. Photo: IC
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that Omicron remains a “very high” risk and could overwhelm health care systems as the rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus has caused record outbreaks in many countries.
Cases rose 11 percent worldwide last week, forcing the governments of Germany and France to strike a difficult balance between anti-virus restrictions and the need to keep economies and societies open.
The Netherlands and Switzerland said Omicron has become the dominant strain in their countries, and while some studies have suggested it causes milder COVID-19, the World Health Organization has urged caution.
“The overall risk related to the new variant of care, OMICRON, remains very high,” the UN health agency said in its weekly epidemiological update for COVID-19.
“Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variety has a growth advantage over the Delta variety with a doubling time of two to three days.”
The World Health Organization said preliminary data from Britain, South Africa and Denmark, which currently have the highest per capita infection rate in the world, indicated a lower risk of hospitalization in Omicron than in the Delta.
But, she added, more data is needed to understand just how dangerous Omicron is.
Despite these studies, Omicron’s rapid growth “will continue to increase the number of hospital admissions, particularly among unvaccinated groups, and cause widespread disruption to health systems,” said Catherine Smallwood, WHO Director of COVID-19 Incidents in Europe. vital services.
Europe was once again one of the pandemic hotspots, with more than 5.4 million people dying worldwide.
France, Britain, Greece and Portugal reported record daily cases on Tuesday.
France reported nearly 180,000 infections over a 24 hour period.
To turn the tide, many countries on the continent have reinstated restrictions that had serious economic and social consequences.
As the new year approaches, contact restrictions have been imposed in Germany for the second year in a row, with Europe’s largest economy shutting down nightclubs and forcing sports competitions behind closed doors.
Private gatherings were also limited to 10 vaccinated people, or two families where there are non-vaccinated people.
Finland announced Tuesday that it will ban entry to unvaccinated foreign travelers. Only residents, essential workers or diplomats will be exempted.
The northern country, like Sweden, began requiring negative tests for incoming non-resident travelers from Tuesday, a day after Denmark implemented the same measure.
Sudden spikes around the world have severely disrupted leisure travel, with thousands of flights canceled around the world.
French press agency
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