Europe Battles Omicron Spread, Holiday Season Goes for a Toss, Read to know more.

By P Shweta

After two years of Covid-19 pandemic, the world community, especially Europe, was hoping to limp back to normalcy this Christmas season. However, the quick spread of the Omicron variant of the disease, detected first in South Africa, has derailed the plan. The fact that the disease has hit Europe in the run-up to their main festive season has made its economic impact much worse.
The UK has been hit especially hard, with daily new infections topping  90,000 on December 18. But the surge in Omicron cases is more worrying. On December 17 and 18, the country reported 10,000 new daily Omicron infections. In London, the Omicron variant is thought to be about 80% of all new Covid cases. The government is working on rules aimed at slowing down the spread of the disease, including limiting indoor socializing.

Already, the government has asked people to be cautious while socializing during Christmas and New Year. The government’s worry is that even if the Omicron variant proves to be a bit milder than the Delta variant, the sheer speed with which the new variant is spreading could overwhelm the health system.
However, the challenge for the government is that people are already exasperated due to intermittent lockdowns over the past two years, and any new restrictions are likely to be unpopular.
Other major European countries like Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands are also facing worrying situations. Also, the EU chief has warned that the omicron variant could become the dominant strain of the disease in Europe by mid-January.
In the Netherlands, non-essential businesses along with social and entertainment gatherings have been stopped till mid January, meaning the peak festive season is already a washout. Schools too are to remain shut.

Countries like France and Germany have reintroduced travel restrictions, especially from the UK. Even fully vaccinated people from the UK will be allowed only essential trips. All leisure travel is out of bounds. Greece and Italy have also made it mandatory for all foreign visitors to present Covid-negative certificate on entry.
Other European countries like Denmark, Spain and Ireland are also in the process of announcing curbs to curtail Christmas festivities, so that they don’t face a deluge of festival-induced cases.
The Omicron variant has disrupted Europe’s march towards recovery, even though two-thirds of the population is fully vaccinated. Research indicates that Omicron can partially overcome immunity acquired through vaccination and past infections, meaning that even those who are fully vaccinated may not be immune to the new Covid variant. Also, new studies have shown that the Omicron variant multiplies more rapidly than the earlier variants in the airways, meaning it could potentially spread much faster.
Considering all these aspects, the Omicron variant is likely to emerge as a new challenge for the whole world in the year 2022.

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About the Author

Writer P. Shweta has been associated with reputed media houses for long and has witnessed many major political events closely. She is based out of Delhi, India. She has authored this write up for KSHVID NEWS NETWORK.

Views expressed here are her personal opinion/analysis.

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