Spiraling infections in the United Kingdom, fueled in part by the novel omicron coronavirus type, sent shockwaves around Europe on Thursday, fuelling a familiar fear that harsher restrictions may ruin holiday plans once again this year.
Although little is known about omicron, officials are increasingly warning that it looks to be more transmissible than the delta version, which was already causing problems in hospitals from the United States to the Netherlands. With so many unanswered concerns, there was doubt about how fast and harshly to tighten down on everything from travel to holiday parties.
Following the largest number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom since the epidemic began on Wednesday, France tightened entry procedures for persons traveling from the United Kingdom.
The top medical officer in England has recommended individuals to restrict who they meet during the holiday season, though there has been significant discussion about how much should be canceled. Despite indicators that omicron was gaining traction in the United States, the White House said there was no need for a lockdown.
More than 75 nations around the world have verified cases of the new strain. In the United Kingdom, where omicron cases double every two to three days, the variety is likely to overtake delta as the most common strain. By mid-January, authorities in the 27-nation European Union predict omicron to be the prevalent form.
Aside from suggestions that it’s more infectious, preliminary evidence suggests that omicron is milder but better at evading immunizations. Because hospitalizations lag behind infections and so many variables contribute to how sick people get, experts have advised caution in drawing conclusions about how mild it is.
Even though omicron is milder overall than delta, it may disable some of the current lifesaving measures, putting immune-compromised and elderly patients in particular at danger. And if it’s more transmissible, more infections mean a higher chance of more serious illnesses in the long run.
EU leaders met in Brussels on Thursday to try to strike a compromise between combating the spread of illnesses across the continent and keeping borders open.
However, European governments were already taking steps to stop the virus from spreading before the conference.
France has announced that it will impose limitations on passengers entering from the United Kingdom, which is no longer a member of the EU, limiting the grounds for travel and mandating a 48-hour isolation period upon arrival. The new regulations will go into force on Saturday am.
The precautions are being implemented “in light of the exceptionally fast spread of the omicron strain in the United Kingdom,” according to French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
After weeks of political tensions between France and the United Kingdom over fishing rights and how to deal with dangerous small boat migration across the English Channel, the unexpected action was made.
It also comes as France’s administration is frantically attempting to prevent a fresh shutdown or worse restrictions that would harm the economy and cast a pall over President Emmanuel Macron’s upcoming presidential campaign in April.
Greece stated on Wednesday that beginning Sunday, all visitors entering the nation would be required to demonstrate a negative PCR test, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. Italy also ordered negative tests from vaccinated tourists this week, sparking fears that similar measures taken elsewhere may hamper EU citizens’ ability to visit friends and family during the holidays.
Because of the threat posed by the highly contagious novel omicron form, Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa stated he expects to maintain stronger COVID-19 border restrictions in place beyond their original termination date of Jan. 9. Greece is a country where
The situation in England, according to the country’s chief medical officer, is only going to become worse over the holidays.
Professor Chris Whitty described the present scenario as “two epidemics in one,” with omicron infections on the rise while the country grapples with the older delta variety, which continues to infect a substantial number of people.
Whitty urged individuals to reduce their social interactions and focus on the most essential ones.
Restaurants and pubs in the United Kingdom demanded government assistance on Thursday, fearing a slew of canceled parties and a general drop in business during the crucial and lucrative Christmas season. Concerns about the new variant, they claim, have already cost the company 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) in sales in the last ten days.
The dire predictions, according to Jonathan Neame, chief executive of pub and brewery Shepherd Neame, will send his company back to the beginning of the epidemic.
“We’ve had a large amount of cancellations, and it’s increasing every day,” he told Times Radio, “and that’s going to increase even more following the news last night, which appears to have pushed us back into that sort of zombie world of the first week of March, of the pandemic last year.”
Since the government imposed stricter limits last Wednesday, the Music Venue Trust claimed the business has seen a “catastrophic reduction in attendance and advance ticket sales,” “putting the whole sector back on red alert for the prospect of permanent closures.”