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Monday, January 17, 2022

New measures and highlights in the Covid-19 pandemic

The world is looking for the best long-term response to Covid-19: some, like Quebec, are adopting new restrictions, while others think they can “live with it. Europe is currently the region with the most cases worldwide, more than 7.9 million in the last seven days (45% of the global total), followed by the US-Canada area (5.6 million, 32%).

Europe

France: strengthening vaccine control

France is working on a bill for a vaccination pass in order to gain access to transportation, bars, restaurants, gyms, hotels, fairs or conventions.

For the 5.3 million non-vaccinated French people, social life could be drastically limited with the new device. They will no longer be able to go to restaurants, bars, leisure places even with a negative test of less than 24 hours.

Italy: vaccination pass adopted

Pour accéder aux bars, restaurants, salles de sport, hôtels, foires ou congrès, il faudra se munir de ce pass vaccinal. Pour l’obtenir, deux options sont possibles : avoir un schéma vaccinal complet ou présenter un certificat de guérison récent. Les Italiens semblent être plutôt d’accord avec cette mesure et l’acceptent. Une règle qui rassure la population.

Germany dithers on mandatory vaccination

In addition to its mandatory nature, it is also the establishment of a vaccination register, centralized by the administration, which poses a problem in a country still traumatized by mass surveillance under Nazism and then in East Germany. The subject is divisive.

“Health protection is a precious asset, but the most precious asset in our constitution is and remains freedom,” said Christian Lindner, current Minister of Finance, on Thursday. According to him, the evolution of the pandemic over the past few weeks, which is generally under control in Germany, where daily infections are close to 55,000 cases, shows that we must “act with moderation”. We prefer to wait and see how the epidemic and the Omicron variant, less dangerous than its Delta counterpart but more contagious, will evolve, according to a study by the British health agency. This variant should soon become the majority in Germany.

Spain: Covid-19 treated as normal flu

Spain wants to treat coronavirus as normal influenza, an endemic disease that recurs regularly. A new strategy will be put in place once the sixth wave of infections is over.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed in an interview with Cadena Ser radio that the government will change its strategy to fight the coronavirus “no longer as a pandemic but as an endemic disease.” “New instruments are needed for this, and we will also have to conduct this debate at the European level,” he said.

Switzerland evokes the “beginning of the end

The Omicron variant could be “the beginning of the end” of the Covid-19 pandemic, estimated Wednesday the Swiss government, which by prudence wants to extend until the end of March the measures taken to contain the 5th wave. “We may be on the eve of a turning point that could be decisive with the passage from a pandemic phase to an endemic phase with an immunity reached in the population that now reaches high levels,” said Health Minister Alain Berset at a press conference.

England lets omicron run

Faced with the omicron tsunami, England is betting on – almost – free movement. Since the first cases of the variant were discovered on its soil at the end of November, a few days before France, few new restrictions have been imposed. Except, at the beginning of December, the return of the mask indoors and at school, the proof of a negative test or of a double vaccination to attend large-scale events and teleworking whenever possible.

This strategy is the opposite of that of the other British nations (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), which manage health policies independently, and therefore the pandemic, and where stricter restrictions have been introduced.

WHO: Booster doses not a “viable” strategy

Fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with booster doses of current vaccines is not a viable strategy, World Health Organization experts warned Tuesday, calling for vaccines that better prevent transmission.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts that more than 50% of the region’s population will be infected with Omicron within the next six to eight weeks,” warned WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge. A little more than six weeks after the identification of Omicron in South Africa, data from several countries converge on two points: this variant is transmitted much more rapidly than the previously dominant one, Delta, and seems to cause less severe forms of the disease overall.

For the European Medicines Agency, the meteoric spread of Omicron will turn Covid-19 into an endemic disease that humanity can learn to live with. “With the increase in immunity in the population – and with Omicron, there will be a lot of natural immunity in addition to vaccination – we will move quickly toward a scenario that will be closer to endemicity,” said Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based EMA.

Around the World

The United States “on the threshold” of being able to “live with it”

The U.S. may be “on the cusp” of a transition period, after which it will become possible to “live with” the virus, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House adviser on the health crisis

The country has surpassed its record number of hospitalized patients, with nearly 146,000 infected patients currently in hospital beds across the country, including 24,000 in intensive care.

Quebec: tax for non-vaccinated

The French-speaking province of Canada wants to introduce a new tax only for the non-vaccinated. The government of the French-speaking province of Canada hit hard by the Omicron wave wants this “health contribution” to represent a “significant amount”, still under discussion.

Mexico: systematic screenings discouraged

Hugo López-Gatell, the undersecretary of Health, asked Tuesday the population not to be systematically tested, even in case of cough or sore throat.

Covid symptoms (cough, sore throat…) can be a sign of “other respiratory diseases,” he said. “So instead of running to the kiosk (testing center) to get tested, you should stay home to avoid infecting others.”

Chinese mega-cities confined

China, which has largely contained the epidemic of Covid-19 in early 2020, has again confined several of its mega-cities, in the run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics (February 4 to 20). Dernière en date, Anyang, dans la province du Henan (centre), a ordonné à ses cinq millions d’habitants de rester chez eux. À Hong Kong, crèches et écoles primaires sont fermées jusqu’à début février. Le Japon a prolongé jusqu’à fin février l’interdiction d’entrée de la plupart des ressortissants étrangers sur son sol, et va rouvrir des centres de vaccination de masse.

Argentina: record number of covid-19 cases

Argentina has recorded a new record of infections in 24 hours but has nevertheless reduced the isolation for contact cases vaccinated three times to spare “essential services”.

According to the daily ministerial report, 134,439 new cases have been registered, 34,000 more than the previous record set on Friday. And 26 times more than the figures that still prevailed in mid-December (about 5,000).

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