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COVID-19 | No Omicron-related deaths have been reported so far, says WHO

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Geneva) An increasing number of countries are reporting local transmission of the omicron variant of the coronavirus on Friday, of which the World Health Organization has no “information” regarding possible deaths.

In the United States, five cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed in New York state on Thursday, one in California, one in Minnesota and one in Hawaii, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 10.

Of these, two did not travel abroad, which indicates that the variant is transmitted between people within the United States.

For its part, Australia announced, on Friday, three first cases of Omicron disease in Sydney, despite the ban on foreigners entering its territory and restrictions on flights to South Africa.

Spain also revealed its first local case of infection, in which a 62-year-old man who had not traveled was vaccinated.

a lot of unknowns

“I have not seen any information that there have been Omicron-related deaths,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a news conference in Geneva on Friday.

With more countries testing to try to detect the new variant, he said, “we will have more cases, more information, and – although I don’t hope – possibly deaths.”

The World Health Organization, which considers the new variant worrisome, considers “high” the “probability of Omicron spreading globally”, even if many unknowns remain. The new variant is now found on all continents, it was discovered by about thirty countries.

The Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) estimated Thursday that Omicron “could cause more than half of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the European Union by the next few months.”

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“Exponential” spread

Especially since according to a study by South African scientists, the risk of contracting COVID-19 again is three times greater with the Omicron variant than with the Beta and Delta variants.

In South Africa, where the identification of Omicron was announced last week, authorities are sparking an “exponential” spread of the virus. The new variant is already prevalent there, and health authorities have reported the peak contamination in children, without it being known at the moment whether it is linked to Omicron.

No type of COVID-19 has ever caused such a panic since the advent of Delta, which is currently prevalent and already highly contagious. All over the world, announcements of strict measures and travel restrictions are increasing.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday announced the tightening of restrictions for people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, who will not be able to access non-essential shops, restaurants, cultural or entertainment venues, and will have to limit their contacts.

Germany: Compulsory Vaccine Soon

A bill on compulsory vaccination will be submitted to the German parliament for entry into force in February or March, as is already the case in Austria, which has reconstituted its population, and in Greece.

In France, nine cases of Omicron have been confirmed. Like other European countries, France was already in the midst of an epidemic outbreak even before the variant was reported. Prime Minister Jan Castex acknowledged that “the fifth wave of the epidemic is particularly strong” and “the situation is worrying”.

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Comme de nombreux pays du monde, les États du vieux continent ont durci les restrictions sanitaires : contrôles aux frontières, interdiction de voyager vers l’Afrique australe, masque obligatoire dans les vaccines transports et les magasins au frontières, recommable ni in France…

Against the grain, Switzerland will scrap a mandatory quarantine at the country’s entrance for vaccinated people on Saturday, but will tighten testing requirements.

Authorities in Asia said, following Singapore’s announcement of two cases, neighboring Malaysia reported its first Friday, a student who returned from South Africa on November 19. Sri Lanka also announced its first case of Omicron, again from South Africa.

Perfect recipe for variations

Currently, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has emphasized that inadequate vaccination coverage against COVID-19 and the level of screening, especially in Africa, constitute “a perfect recipe for the multiplication and amplification of variants”. He stressed that the end of the epidemic is “a matter of choice.”

Various laboratories, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax, have expressed confidence in their ability to create a new vaccine against Omicron. Russia is also working on its own version of the Sputnik V that specifically targets this variant.

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,233,111 people worldwide and infected nearly 265 million people since the end of 2019, according to AFP statistics.

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