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Omicron may become the dominant coronavirus in Europe in the coming weeks, assessed by experts interviewed by Izvestia. According to WHO, more than 50% of the region’s population can become infected with it in the next 6-8 weeks… As Izvestia was told at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to preliminary data, the disease when infected with this variant of COVID proceeds in a less severe form. However, the danger is associated with the fact that existing vaccines are less resistant to it. European countries are actively increasing the pace of testing and tightening restrictions. So, mask mode returned to France. In Italy, it works even on the streets.

New records

On January 13, WHO recorded the largest increase in the incidence. Over the week, the number of new cases of COVID-19 increased by 15 million… So far, Southeast Asia is in the lead, but Europe is already facing an unprecedented increase in morbidity due to the spread of the new Omicron strain. So, France has become the leader among European countries in terms of the number of infections. On January 11, almost 360 thousand new cases were recorded in the Fifth Republic.

We have not seen such figures since the beginning of the crisis. Real tidal wave – the number of infections is so high. 22 thousand people were hospitalized, of which 3900 are in critical condition or in intensive care, – said the country’s Minister of Health Olivier Veran.

According to data from January 12, another 332 thousand people were infected in the country.… At the same time, France is tightening its fight against coronavirus. Since January 3, employers have been obliged to provide employees with the opportunity to work from home at least three days a week. It is prohibited to sell or accept food and drinks on long-distance public transport, as well as in cinemas. Children over six years of age are required to wear masks in public places.… In addition, vaccination passports will start operating in the republic from January 15, if the parliament approves the relevant bill. So, to visit public and cultural institutions, residents of the republic will need to present not a negative test, but a document confirming the availability of vaccination.

Фото: Global Look Press / dpa / Julian Stratenschulte

Things are no better in Italy at the moment. On January 11, more than 220 thousand new cases were detected here – twice as much as the day before (117 thousand). According to data from January 12, another 196 thousand people were infected in the republic..

“I do not exclude that Omicron will soon dominate in Europe, but there is not enough data for such a conclusion,” Antonio Clavenna, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Pharmacological Research named after Mario Negri (Italy), told Izvestia.

According to him, in accordance with epidemiological studies, when infected with Omicron, the disease proceeds in a less severe form, but this strain is more infectious. That is, if a large number of people become infected, the pressure on the healthcare system will be high.

“Some evidence suggests that two doses of vaccines are low in reducing the risk of infection with this strain, while three doses are approximately 60% effective. In any case, two doses of the vaccine will help prevent at least a severe course of the disease, – said Antonio Klavenna.

According to the virologist, due to the rapid spread of “Omicron” other “non-drug measures” must be followed, such as limiting contact and obliging to wear masks. In closed and public places, it is recommended to use respirators type FFP2.

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Фото: Global Look Press/Keystone Press Agency/Pasquale Gargano

Mandatory wearing of masks in Italy was introduced at the end of December. And even on the street. In addition, since January 10, the country’s authorities have expanded the effect of the so-called enhanced vaccination certificate. (a document confirming that its owner has been ill or completed a full course of vaccination). Now it must be presented not only when visiting restaurants and cinemas, but also when checking into hotels and for travel in public transport.

In Germany, the number of people infected is also increasing rapidly. If on January 10 this figure was 16 thousand, then on January 11 – 120 thousand. On January 12, 86 thousand new cases were detected in Germany.… Against the background of the spread of Omicron, federal and state authorities in Germany on January 7 agreed on new rules to combat the spread of the virus. Now the so-called 2G + rule is in effect in Germany. This means that catering establishments can only be visited by those vaccinated and ill with a negative test or booster vaccination. Moreover, the prime ministers of all 16 federal states of Germany supported the introduction of universal compulsory vaccination in the country. Bundestag will discuss the relevant issue soon.

– After the holidays, many of my friends fell ill. I do not know whether it is Omicron or not, but given that it has recently begun to spread in Europe, this cannot be ruled out. In turn, I constantly undergo express testing, I try to limit contacts, ”Polina, a Potsdam resident, told Izvestia.

Restrictions are returning to Sweden, which previously had a low infection rate compared to its neighbors. Remote working mode is back in the country from January 12… Restaurants will have to close at 23:00, visitors will be seated in groups of no more than eight people.

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Фото: Global Look Press / dpa / Friso Gentsch

In Romania, from January 8, a fine is introduced for wearing cloth masks… The current regulations require all residents over the age of five to wear surgical face masks or FFP2 respirators in public, under threat of a $ 570 fine.

WHO forecasts

In London, “Omicron” was named dominant in the UK on December 19… Sajid Javid, the head of the country’s Ministry of Health, announced this. The Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense last week began to send the military to hospitals experiencing a shortage of personnel and extreme workload due to a record increase in cases of coronavirus infection in the country.

Meanwhile the World Health Organization said that more than half of Europe’s population could become infected with Omicron by March… At a press conference on January 10, WHO Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Hans Kluge, recalled that more than 7 million new cases were recorded in the region in the first week of 2022, and this figure doubled in two weeks.

“With this rhythm, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts that in the next 6-8 weeks more than 50% of the region’s population will become infected with Omicron,” the organization’s representative said earlier..

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Фото: Global Look Press/Xinhua/Stephen Chung

As Izvestia was told at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, according to preliminary data, the disease when infected with this variant of COVID proceeds in a less severe form. However, the danger is associated with the fact that existing vaccines are less resistant to it.

– It is too early to give a full assessment of the danger of “Omicron”, additional research and data are needed, including from the countries of the European region, in order to fully assess whether it applies to all groups of the population. However preliminary studies show a lower efficacy of vaccines and a faster weakening of immunity when infected with this strain, – told “Izvestia” in ECDC.

At the same time, the organization noted that the booster dose provides stronger protection against “Omicron”, and the presence of at least two doses of the vaccine in any case prevents a severe course of the disease.

“Vaccination remains a key way to reduce exposure to the new Omicron strain, but other measures need to be taken to slow transmission of the virus, including limiting social contact and optimizing testing systems. It is necessary to ensure monitoring of the epidemiological situation, – emphasized in the ECDC.

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