Omicron spreads considerably quicker than Delta, says WHO
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading considerably quicker than the Delta pressure in international locations with documented group transmission, with a doubling time of 1.5- to three days, the World Well being Group has mentioned.
The Omicron variant, which was designated as a variant of concern on 26 November, has been recognized in 89 international locations throughout all six WHO areas as of 16 December, Reuters quoted the WHO as saying.
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An announcement on a strict Christmas lockdown is predicted in the Netherlands, with the federal government anticipated to shut all the things however important retailers.
The federal government is assembly on Saturday with its well being experts who’ve beneficial the closure of all non-essential retailers, faculties, bars, eating places and different public venues.
The Dutch nationwide broadcaster, NOS, and the news company ANP cited authorities sources saying a press convention saying the brand new measures can be held at 7pm. Nevertheless, a spokesman for the well being ministry, Axel Dees, declined to touch upon any proposed measures or the timing of any press convention.
It is just days because the authorities ordered that the 5pm to 5am closure of bars, eating places and most shops, launched in late November, would proceed till 14 January.
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Greater than 1.18bn individuals in China have been absolutely vaccinated in opposition to Covid-19, a spokesperson for the nation’s nationwide well being fee has mentioned.
Mi Feng informed a press convention on Saturday that greater than 2.66bn Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered.
“China is assembly the rising pressures of guarding in opposition to inbound instances, with a complete of 77 international locations and areas having reported instances of the Omicron variant of Covid-19,” Mi was quoted as saying by China’s state-run Xinhua news company.
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Portugal grew to become the most recent nation to widen distribution of Covid vaccines to youngsters over 5 on Saturday.
Greater than 60,000 youngsters aged between 5 and 11 had been set to obtain their first jab of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine this weekend in the nation, which already has 88.9% vaccine protection in older teams.
France is ready to observe swimsuit subsequent week.
The EU’s medicines watchdog final month authorised a lower-dosage Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds, an age group experiencing excessive coronavirus an infection charges throughout the continent.
Denmark, the place there was a surge in instances attributed to the brand new Omicron variant, and a few Austrian areas started providing vaccines to youthful youngsters in November.
The US was the primary giant nation to widen entry to younger youngsters and has up to now vaccinated greater than 5m in the five-to-11 age bracket.
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Plans are being formulated for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in England after Christmas, though a last determination on new restrictions is but to be taken, the Instances studies.
The draft laws would return England to related restrictions as these seen in spring, with indoor mixing banned besides for work functions and pubs and eating places restricted to desk service outdoor.
Colleges and retailers would stay open, however the “rule of six” can be reimposed for conferences with family and friends, weddings and funerals can be restricted to fifteen to 30 individuals, and the most-vulnerable would as soon as once more be suggested to “defend”.
In response to the Instances, some sources mentioned planning was below solution to recall parliament subsequent week to debate the restrictions. They may show politically troublesome for the prime minister, after a rise up by 100 of his MPs in opposition to the plan B restrictions, together with Covid passes for public occasions, earlier this week.
The soccer grounds Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Wembley and the racecourses, Sandown Park, Bathtub and Chelmsford are among the many nearly 3,000 websites taken over by vaccination centres in England this weekend.
Different venues open this weekend embrace the Christmas Market at Chester Cathedral, the Liverpool Christmas Ice Pageant, Bluewater purchasing centre in Kent and London’s Oxford Road, the place there can be a vaccine bus.
Greater than 21 million booster jabs have been delivered by the NHS in England up to now, NHS England mentioned. On Monday Boris Johnson introduced that the federal government would purpose to supply a booster to each single grownup in the UK by the top of December.
Many vaccination websites throughout the nation are working 12 hours a day, seven days per week, the NHS informed the PA Media news company, including that in each group there ought to be slots obtainable a minimum of 16 hours a day.
NHS nationwide medical director, Prof Stephen Powis, mentioned: “From stadiums to racecourses and cell buses to Christmas markets, NHS Covid vaccination programme, the most important and most profitable in our historical past, is pulling out all of the stops to make it simpler than ever.
“Due to the onerous work of our well being service employees and sensible volunteers we have now already delivered report boosters up to now this week however we need to sustain the momentum so if you happen to haven’t taken up the provide but get boosted now.”
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Olivier Veran, France’s well being minister, has mentioned the unfold of the Omicron variant is the primary cause behind plans for stricter vaccine move measures.
Underneath the present laws, a latest damaging Covid check is enough for getting into many indoor public locations, however a brand new well being move set to be launched early subsequent yr would require individuals to point out proof of vaccination to enter eating places and long-distance public transport.
Veran, talking on France Inter radio, additionally mentioned that he anticipated that early subsequent week the French well being authority will give the inexperienced mild to start out providing coronavirus vaccinations to youngsters aged 5 to 11.
Seven to 10% of recent confirmed coronavirus instances in France are suspected to be of the Omicron variant, the nation’s well being minister, Olivier Veran, mentioned on Saturday, as a ban on travellers from the UK comes into power.
From Saturday morning, travellers will solely be allowed to enter France from the UK if they’re travelling for “compelling causes”, except they’re French nationals, residents or hauliers.
Even then, these eager to journey should present a damaging Covid check and self-isolate for two days after arriving in the nation.
On Saturday, Veran mentioned the fast unfold of the brand new variant was the primary cause for the deliberate introduction of a brand new vaccination move early subsequent yr, which would require that individuals present proof of vaccination to enter eating places and long-distance public transport.
Underneath the present well being move regulation, a latest damaging Covid check is enough for getting into public locations.
Stricter Covid restrictions should be launched “very quickly” in England to forestall hospital admissions rising to three,000 a day, in keeping with leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, seen by BBC News.
The leaked minutes, from a gathering of presidency scientific experts held on Thursday, warn that any delay in imposing new restrictions “would significantly cut back the effectiveness”.
To date the federal government has taken a comparatively mild contact regardless of fears of the fast unfold of the Omicron variant, with the UK setting new data for lab-confirmed instances of Covid-19 for two days in a row this week.
The Sage minutes say: “If the purpose is to cut back the degrees of an infection in the inhabitants and stop hospitalisations reaching these ranges, extra stringent measures would have to be carried out very quickly.”
“The timing of such measures is essential,” say the Sage minutes. “Delaying till 2022 would significantly cut back the effectiveness of such interventions and make it much less probably that these would forestall appreciable strain on well being and care settings.”
That is Damien Gayle kicking off the Guardian’s coronavirus stay weblog protection this morning. All day I can be bringing you the most recent Covid-related updates and headlines.