Covid-19 around the world: WHO has not received “any information reporting Omicron-related deaths”

More than a week after the detection by South Africa of a new variant, called Omicron, the list of affected countries and the number of cases of contamination are increasing. A growing number of countries reported, Friday, December 3, cases of local transmission of the variant, about which the World Health Organization (WHO) claims to have ” no information “ concerning possible deaths.

The pandemic has killed more than 5.2 million people worldwide since the end of 2019, according to a report established on Friday in the middle of the day by Agence France-Presse (AFP) from official sources. The United States is the most bereaved country with more than 785,000 dead, ahead of Brazil (over 615,000) and India (over 470,000).

The WHO estimates, however, that by taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, the toll of the pandemic in the world could be two to three times higher.

  • No deaths yet linked to Omicron, according to WHO

If this new variant of SARS-CoV-2 seems extremely contagious, a spokesperson for the WHO, Christian Lindmeier, explained on Friday that he had not received “No information reporting deaths linked to Omicron”. More and more countries carrying out tests to detect this variant, “We will have more cases, more information and although I hope not possibly dead “, he stressed.

To date, Omicron has been detected in thirty-eight countries; the variant is now widespread in the six regions of the WHO, also said the technical manager of the organization for Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, during the same press briefing.

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WHO judges « probable » that the variant is spreading globally, especially since, according to a South African study, the risk of catching Covid-19 again is three times greater with Omicron than with the Beta and Delta variants. In South Africa, the new variant is already dominant and health authorities have reported a peak in contamination in children, without it being known for the moment whether it is linked to Omicron.

  • First cases of local transmission of the new variant

The first cases of local transmission of Omicron have been reported in the United States and Australia.

In the United States, five cases linked to the Omicron variant were confirmed on Thursday in New York State, one in California, one in Minnesota and one in Hawaii, bringing the number of confirmed cases to ten so far in the country.

Australia announced Friday that it had detected the first three cases of the Omicron variant in Sydney in three students, despite the ban on foreigners from entering its territory and restrictions on flights to southern Africa .

Spain also detected its first case of local contamination, in a vaccinated 62-year-old man who had not made any travel.

  • Tightening of restrictions in Belgium and Ireland

Children in a primary school in Antwerp (Belgium), in May 2020.

Kindergartens and primary schools in Belgium will close their doors for the Christmas holidays a week in advance, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday. “We must take measures to reduce the pressure on hospitals as quickly as possible”, who is not “Not tenable”, said the head of government, unveiling a tightening of restrictions in the country from Saturday, due to“An autumnal wave much heavier than expected”.

The Christmas holidays for nursery and primary education will therefore begin on December 18, he announced. In schools – and wherever it is required for adults – wearing a mask will now be compulsory from the age of 6. In the secondary, the courses will be organized in hybrid form, with a maximum of 50% of face-to-face teaching until the Christmas holidays.

From Monday, indoor events will also be limited to a maximum of 200 people, the public must be seated and wear a mask. Indoor sports activities will still be authorized, but without an audience. As for outdoor events, such as football matches, they can be held without limit on the number of people.

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On Ireland, the government also announced on Friday the implementation of new restrictions, including the closure of nightclubs and the return of physical distancing in certain places. “Moving forward into the Christmas period without restrictions to reduce the volume of personal contact is simply too high a risk”, said Prime Minister Micheal Martin, addressing the population.

Following the recommendations of the health authorities, from December 7 to January 9, nightclubs will have to close and physical distancing will be restored in pubs, restaurants and hotels, with room service only and a maximum of six people per table. Reception capacity is halved in cultural venues and for sporting events, where wearing a mask is compulsory. In addition, it is advisable to limit home meetings to four households.

  • Lifting of quarantine on entry into Switzerland

The Christmas market in Lausanne (Switzerland), December 2, 2021.

Switzerland will abolish the obligation of quarantine on entry into the country for people vaccinated against Covid-19 on Saturday. However, it will tighten the testing requirements, announced the Minister of Health, Alain Berset, Friday.

“No reason to panic in this situation, no need to be afraid in this situation, but a lot of respect. “

While in the country, the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 circulates a lot, Mr. Berset also announced a series of measures to try to curb the explosion in the number of infections. The wearing of the mask will be widened, as will the sanitary pass. The government once again recommends teleworking, without however making it compulsory, in the face of opposition from certain cantons.

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The announcements made on Friday should save most of the winter season, which is crucial for the Swiss tourism industry, whether in the hotel industry, restaurants or the ski sector.

The World with AFP

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Covid-19 around the world: WHO has not received “any information reporting Omicron-related deaths”