Dutch government holds emergency meeting on spread of Omicron

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The Dutch government is holding an emergency meeting on Saturday with health advisers over the rapidly spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus before the expected announcement of new lockdown measures to stem its spread.

The government on Friday proposed new measures to curb the alarming spread of the new variant, as other European countries prepare to reimpose restrictions to contain the spread of the variant.

Health experts have recommended the government order a “strict” lockdown, according to Dutch media, just days after a partial lockdown closing non-essential businesses was extended until January 14. Primary schools were also closed early for the winter break due to the high rate of infection among children.

The new variant has fueled infections in Britain near peak levels in early 2021, while other European countries and the United States are also experiencing flare-ups.

Scientists warn the British government must go further to prevent hospitals from being swamped by the tide. The warning comes after the government previously reimposed an indoor mask requirement and ordered people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test when entering nightclubs or large venues .

The UK Health Safety Agency said on Friday 65 patients had been hospitalized in England with the omicron.

In France, the government has announced that it will start immunizing children aged 5 to 11 from Wednesday. As he said on Friday that the Omicron variant was spreading like “lightning,” Prime Minister Jean Castex proposed to require proof of vaccination for people entering public facilities.

The measure, which requires parliamentary approval, sparked plans for demonstrations on Saturday in Paris, where the New Year’s fireworks display was canceled.

Maria do Carmo, 8, left, quickly points to her sister Madalena, 11, when nurse Catarina, center, asks which of them will be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in a vaccination center in Lisbon, Saturday, December 18, 2021.

Protests against the lockdown are also scheduled for Saturday in Turin, Italy.

Egypt has detected its first three cases of the new variant, according to the country’s health ministry. The ministry said on Friday that the three infected were among 26 travelers who tested positive for the coronavirus at Cairo International Airport.

The ministry did not say where the three came from, but Masrawy outlet reported that they were among the travelers from South Africa who announced the discovery of the variant on November 25.

In China, Beijing will maintain its relatively strict containment measures, while the rest of the country will remain flexible. “There is no one-size-fits-all policy” for local governments, a Chinese government said at a press conference on Saturday.

China has identified two cases of the omicron variant and has mainly contained the spread of COVID-19 since it was first discovered in the central city of Wuhan in China in late 2019.

A recent study found that the risk of re-infection with omicron is more than five times that of the delta variant, and it showed no signs of causing milder adverse effects.

“We find no evidence of omicron having a gravity other than delta,” said the Imperial College London study. The study noted, however, that data on hospitalizations is still limited.

The study, conducted in England between November 29 and December 11, was based on 333,000 cases of infections involving different variants of the coronavirus.

More than 5.3 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide since the coronavirus emerged two years ago, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Administer vaccines

The center reported that more than 8.6 billion doses of the vaccine had been administered worldwide as of midday on Saturday, a massive logistics campaign complicated by the surge of omicron.

Several countries are rushing to speed up vaccination campaigns as more and more evidence supports the need for booster doses to fight the omicron variant.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country would send 15 million doses of vaccine to Africa, where infections are on the rise and vaccination rates are low. Erdogan made the announcement during a summit of African leaders in Istanbul.

“It is a shame for humanity that only 6% of the African population has been vaccinated,” Erdogan said.

A vaccine developed in India, Covovax, was urgently approved on Friday by the World Health Organization. WHO vaccine officer Mariangela Simao said the approval “aims to increase access, especially to low-income countries.”

In Europe, European Union governments have agreed to order more than 180 million doses of a BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine suitable for omicron, the head of the European Commission said on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday the government plans to speed up booster injections to around 31 million vulnerable people. He also said he spoke with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Friday about oral treatments.

South Africa, which first identified the omicron variant, announced Friday that it will donate around 2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to other African countries next year via a platform. -form of medical supplies established by the African Union.

Some of the information in this report comes from Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press and Reuters.


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