Covid-19: Facing Omicron, will curfews and lockdowns soon return?

the essential
Faced with the extreme virulence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has already become the majority in several countries, including the United States, countries are strengthening their sanitary measures and for some they are resuming curfews or partial confinements. In France, the Prime Minister received the political groups yesterday.

More than a wave, a “tsunami” as Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently called it: the Omicron variant is sweeping the world with blazing speed. Identified in South Africa at the end of November, variant B.1.1.529 has already been detected in 89 countries according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that the cases attributed to it double every 1.5 to 3 days. Omicron accounted for 73.2% of new Covid-19 infections in the United States during the week ending Dec. 18, according to data from U.S. health authorities Monday night. The previous week the figure was only 12.6%. In Europe, where countries are facing the fifth wave of the Delta variant epidemic, Omicron appears as a wave within a wave: while the Delta wave begins to decline, the Omicron wave, the sixth, takes over and is worries at the highest point. States, obliged to take new restrictive measures and, on occasions, to resume curfews and partial confinements.

Pressure on the unvaccinated

Since Sunday, the Netherlands have decided on lockdown, for the Christmas holiday period. The Czech Republic and Slovakia also announced on Thursday a tightening of their health measures by restricting access to certain places or events. Since last Monday in the Czech Republic, only people vaccinated or cured of Covid-19 have access to restaurants, hotels, etc. The same is true in Slovakia, where Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced “lockdown for the unvaccinated.”

In Austria, general confinement was decreed between November 22 and December 12; continues for the unvaccinated. The Länder of Upper Austria and Salzburg provide for local closures. A decision that the neighboring German Länder could also make, but for the moment, Germany does not plan to close shops considered not essential, cinemas or restaurants, considering it sufficient to limit their access to vaccinated or cured people.

The progression of the Omicron variant in France
DDM – Philippe Rioux

On the other hand, the government of Olaf Sholz is preparing to tighten sanitary restrictions in the New Year, according to a project discussed yesterday during a crisis meeting between the government and representatives of the 16 German regions. As of December 28, excluding those under 14 years of age, vaccinated or cured people will not be able to receive more than 10 guests in their homes and as long as they are all immunized, according to the text. Unvaccinated people can only invite a maximum of two people from a household. Sporting events, such as Bundesliga football matches, will take place “without spectators” from December 28 and until further notice, as will cultural events and concerts, according to a second modified text published by the night. Discos and dance clubs will be closed.

In the United Kingdom, where the epidemic could cause 6,000 deaths and more than 2 million cases a day before January, Boris Johnson is committed to good citizenship and the 3rd dose of the vaccine. In Spain, Catalonia, the most populated region, will resume the curfew, while in Italy a health pass is required, even at work.

500 million tests in the United States

In the United States, the most devastated country in the world in absolute terms with more than 807,000 deaths from Covid-19, President Joe Biden announced yesterday new measures to curb exponential pollution. If no containment is foreseen, the White House wants to insist on “the risks run by the unvaccinated” and is betting on massive projections. US authorities will distribute 500 million tests for free, send emergency medical teams to saturated hospitals and open new beds.

This return of restrictive measures to contain Omicron is promoted by the WHO, which wants to believe that it is possible to end the Covid next year “ensuring that 70% of the population of each country is vaccinated” by mid-2022.

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