Omicron variant: experts fear paralysis of the country

“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” : this word from Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) perhaps inspired the members of the scientific council, gathered for a press conference on Thursday 23 December. The impact of the Omicron wave in January worries them in two ways. Their first fear is reminiscent of past waves: will the hospital hold up? Their second concern is unprecedented: the country’s essential services, the foundations of society, could be threatened.

The extreme contagiousness of the Omicron variant, in fact, could cause “Disorganization” many sectors from the month of January, alert this body. The multiplication of contact cases and work stoppages could affect the strategic sectors of the operation of the company: food distribution, security, energy, transport, communications and health could operate in degraded mode.

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Today, in fact, if a person comes into contact with someone else who may be infected with the Omicron variant, they must immediately self-isolate for seven days, or for seventeen days if they share the same home. And this, even if she is fully vaccinated.

Think about foreclosure rules

“This provision risks putting [la France] kneeling “, estimated Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health (University of Geneva), in a tweet, December 23. With this variant, it is estimated that a person can infect more than ten others, in the absence of barrier gestures. If there are 100,000 new cases per day in France, a million contact cases could be quarantined for seven to seventeen days, “Or more than 10 million days of downtime generated each day”. For the epidemiologist, “Isolate five days [cas] positive is useful, isolating contact cases, with Omicron, is wishful thinking ”.

Read also Covid-19: more than 90,000 cases in 24 hours in France, the scientific council warns of the risks of “disorganization” in January

It would therefore be necessary ” reflect [aux] foreclosure rules ” current, also believes Olivier Guérin, member of the scientific council. “There will be adjustments to be made which will take into account the severity of the clinical forms” disease caused by Omicron, added another member of the scientific council, Arnaud Fontanet.

We are entering the unknown. At the University of Montpellier, the team of Mircea Sofonea and Samuel Alizon modeled the impact of this variant on the hospital during this winter. Results, “Even with an optimistic assumption, where the virulence of Omicron is two to three times lower than that of Delta, one could border the hospital tension because of the paralysis of the nursing staff, positive for the virus or case of contact”. At the hospital, it will be “A crisis a little different from the previous ones: the influx component of ‘Covid patients’ may not be the main aspect. The lack of personnel and the difficulties in operating the services could be of the utmost importance ”, fears Renaud Piarroux, head of the parasitology-mycology department at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital (AP-HP) in Paris.

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Omicron variant: experts fear paralysis of the country