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UK seeks to relax Covid rules while Europe is engulfed by omicron


Senior doctor Thomas Marx puts on personal protective equipment before entering the room of a patient with Covid-19 in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Freising, southern Germany.

LENNART FIRST | AFP | beautiful pictures

The Plan B measures, implemented in December when the omicron Covid variant spiked in the UK, mean that face masks are mandatory in most indoor public settings such as public transport, shops, theaters and cinemas and everyone should work from home if possible.

High school students must wear masks in the classroom as part of a strategy to reduce the spread of the highly contagious variant and the Covid tag – indicating whether a person has been fully vaccinated or has recently tested negative – is required for larger locations.

Since these measures were introduced, the UK has embarked on a large-scale booster vaccination campaign and has seen the number of omicron infections drop. The booster shots restored much of the Covid vaccine’s protection lost due to weakened immunity and against the more contagious variant, which weakened the Covid shots more than in humans. its predecessor, the delta strain.

At the height of the omicron wave in early 2022, the UK was recording more than 200,000 new Covid infections a day. It reported 94,432 new cases on Tuesday.

“Decisions on next steps remain clearly balanced,” a UK government spokesman noted on Tuesday.

“Plan B was implemented in December to slow the rapid spread of the extremely transmissible omicron variant and receive more spikes,” the spokesperson said, noting that 36 million booster shots have been administered across the UK.

However, the spokesperson added that the omicron variant “continues to pose a significant threat and the pandemic is not yet over. Infections remain high but the latest data are encouraging, with cases.” started to decrease.”

Virologists have widely predicted that the rise and fall of omicron cases should be shorter and sharper than previous variants because of its higher transmissibility. However, despite being more contagious, this variant has so far appeared to cause less severe illness, resulting in a spike in hospitalizations and deaths.

On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that the UK government could be set to announce that all Covid restrictions could end by March, two years after the UK began its first lockdown in… 2020, as the government pursues a plan for people to “learn to live with the virus.”

Yes early signs and hope that the omicron wave has also peaked in some US states, despite the World Health Organization warning on Wednesday that the pandemic won’t end when the omicron variant goes into remission in some countries, warns that high levels of infection around the world will likely lead to new variants as the virus mutates.

The omicron crisis in Europe

While the UK is looking to relax measures, such a strategy is unlikely to be implemented any time soon in mainland Europe, where omicrons are skyrocketing.

France reported 464,769 new cases of Covid on Tuesday, the highest number recorded during the pandemic, while Germany on Wednesday reported more than 100,000 cases, also a country record.

In the Netherlands, frustration has grown over continued shutdowns partly due to rising Covid infections despite restrictions. On Tuesday, 31,426 confirmed cases were reported, just below the record number of about 42,000 cases at the start of the week.

Last Friday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the reopening of non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms, noting that “we are taking a big step forward.” And that also means we’re taking big risks.”

But Rutte warned that uncertainties surrounding the omicron variant mean bars, restaurants and cultural venues will have to close until at least January 25.

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