Omicron fear grips world as Europe, UK see record Covid cases, US confused over new isolation rules – India Today

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Omicron continues to rage across the world even as governments impose fresh curbs and measures to curtail the spread of the virus. The new variant, which is more contagious than the previous Delta variant, has compelled people to once again to restrict themselves even as the world prepares to welcome 2022.
With 1,79,807 cases reported in a single day, France reported Europe’s highest Covid cases even as the continent struggled to contain the spread of the newly detected and more contagious Omicron variant.
Along with France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and England also reported a record number of daily cases.
“The figures could be due in part to reporting delays over Christmas. Countries had been reporting rises running up the festive period, driven by the more contagious Omicron variant,” the BBC reported.
French health minister Olivier Véran warned that France could see as many as 2,50,000 cases a day by the start of January, while the French Hospital Federation said the “most difficult weeks are yet to come”.
Britain reported a record 129,471 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not bring in new restrictions this year to limit the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus.
Johnson said on Monday he would not introduce new restrictions in England, but his ministers have urged people to celebrate the New Year cautiously and warned that the rules could be tightened if the health system was at risk of failure.
The British government manages lockdown restrictions for England, home to most of the UK population. Devolved authorities for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already tightened their rules, as have other European countries facing a surge in Omicron cases.
The previous British record high of daily infections was 122,186 on Dec. 24.
US health officials’ decision to shorten the recommended Covid-19 isolation and quarantine period from 10 days to five is drawing criticism from some medical experts and could create more confusion and fear among Americans.
To the dismay of some authorities, the new guidelines allow people to leave isolation without getting tested to see if they are still infectious.
The guidance has raised questions about how it was crafted and why it was changed now, in the middle of another wintertime spike in cases, this one driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant.
Monday’s action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut in half the recommended isolation time for Americans who are infected with the coronavirus but have no symptoms. The CDC similarly shortened the amount of time people who have come into close contact with an infected person need to quarantine.
The Omicron variant was estimated to be 58.6 per cent of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.
The agency also revised down the Omicron proportion of cases for the week ending Dec. 18 to 22 per cent from 73 per cent, citing additional data and the rapid spread of the variant that in part caused the discrepancy.
Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.
he study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.
The analysis enrolled 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.
While the authors found that neutralisation of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrolment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralisation of the Delta variant.
Click here for IndiaToday.in’s complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
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