July 3, 2022

Covid-19: facing Omicron, curfews and confinements soon back?

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 health measures and for some 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 unprecedented dazzling speed. Identified in South Africa at the end of November, the B.1.1.529 variant has now 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 that ended on December 18, according to data from American health authorities on Monday evening. The previous week the figure was only 12.6%. In Europe where countries face the 5e wave of the epidemic due to the Delta variant, Omicron appears as a wave within the wave: as the Delta wave begins to decline, the Omicron wave, the 6e, takes over and greatly worries the States, forced to take new restrictive measures and sometimes to resume curfews and partial confinements.

Pressure on the unvaccinated

Since Sunday, the Netherlands have decided on confinement, for the Christmas holiday period. The Czech Republic and Slovakia also announced 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. Ditto in Slovakia, where Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced “containment for the unvaccinated”.

In Austria, general confinement was decreed between November 22 and December 12; it continues for the unvaccinated. The Länder of Upper Austria and Salzburg provide for local lockdowns. A decision that the neighboring German Länder could also take, but for the time being, Germany does not plan to close stores deemed non-essential, cinemas or restaurants, considering it sufficient to limit their access to people who have been vaccinated or cured.

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

On the other hand, the government of Olaf Sholz is preparing to tighten the health restrictions on the New Year, according to a project discussed yesterday during a crisis meeting between the government and representatives of the 16 German regions. From December 28, excluding children under 14, people vaccinated or cured will not be able to welcome more than 10 guests into their homes and provided that they are all immunized, according to the text. Non-vaccinated people are only allowed to invite a maximum of two people from one 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 amended text released in the evening. 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 per day before January, Boris Johnson is banking on good citizenship and the 3e dose of vaccine. In Spain, Catalonia, the most populous region, will resume a curfew, while in Italy the health pass is required, including at work.

500 million tests in the United States

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

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