| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

World nations try to balance omicron restrictions while keeping economies open

COVID-Global According to Reuters statistics, 19 illnesses reached a new high in the previous seven days, as the omicron strain grew out of control and countries struggled to curb it without crippling fragile economies.

Between December 22 and December 28, about 900,000 cases were detected on a daily basis throughout the world. Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, the United States, and numerous European countries all set new highs in the preceding 24 hours.

According to research, omicron is less lethal than prior forms. However, the sheer number of people testing positive might overload hospitals in certain nations and leave businesses unable to function without personnel who have been quarantined by government officials.

South African researchers discovered that T cells, a major component of the immune system’s second-line defense, are particularly effective in recognizing and attacking the omicron variety, preventing most infections from progressing to serious disease.

Fearing the economic impact of keeping so many workers at home, certain political leaders in some countries were proposing decreasing the period necessary for isolation following a positive COVID test or exposure.

Spain said on Wednesday that the quarantine time will be reduced from ten to seven days, while Italy announced plans to loosen isolation regulations for anyone who had close contact with virus victims.

Earlier this week, US health officials issued new guidelines that reduces the isolation requirement for patients with a confirmed illness to five days instead of ten, as long as they remain asymptomatic.

“I am deeply worried that omicron, which is highly transmissible and spreading concurrently with delta, is causing a tsunami of cases,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran told parliamentarians that the country was seeing a “dizzying” increase in cases, with 208,000 registered in a 24-hour period, a national and European record.

Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta all set new records for new cases on Tuesday, while the seven-day average number of new daily cases in the United States reached a new high of 258,312 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters calculation. The previous high was 250,141, set in January of this year.

Despite the increase in coronavirus infections, fatalities and hospitalizations are relatively low, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the current seven-day daily average of cases is over 240,400, up 60% from the previous week, the hospitalization rate for the same period is only up 14 percent to around 9,000 each day. Deaths were down roughly 7% to 1,100 per day, according to Walensky.

Some experts questioned the new CDC guidelines that cut the isolation period for asymptomatic coronavirus infections in half, claiming that more infections might occur as a result. The new policy does not require testing to ensure that a person is no longer contagious before returning to work or socializing.

“They were attempting to strike a balance: How can we execute good public health principles while not having to go to the point where you’re compelled to effectively shut down the country?” Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, explained the CDC’s new recommendations to MSNBC.

According to official figures, Britain recorded 183,037 COVID-19 instances on Wednesday, a new high and more than 50,000 more than the previous peak set just a day earlier. Ireland, too, recorded a record number of cases on Wednesday, with over 16,000 new illnesses.

According to health experts, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that he will not impose additional limitations this year to stem the spread of omicron, which currently accounts for nearly 90 percent of all community illnesses.

Australia recorded about 18,300 new cases, exceeding the previous pandemic high of roughly 11,300 on Tuesday.

Demand for free testing kits from the Madrid regional government considerably outstripped availability in Spain, with enormous lines developing outside pharmacies.

Governments are increasingly concerned about the economic implications of large numbers of individuals being put into seclusion due to contact with a coronavirus patient.

“We simply cannot have everyone pulled out of circulation simply because they happen to be in a specific location at a particular time,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.

Morrison wants to make immediate adjustments to COVID-19 testing guidelines in order to relieve stress on testing locations. He stated that Australia required a “shift in gear” to handle overcrowded laboratories and move people out of isolation.

While Spain and Italy relaxed some isolation measures, China maintained its zero tolerance policy, putting 13 million people in Xian, the capital of central Shaanxi province, under strict lockdown for a seventh day as 151 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, but none with Omicron.

“I simply want to go home,” said a 32-year-old mechanic who was in the city on business when it was virtually cut off from the rest of the world last week.

  • Reuters