Omicron menace looms over winter holidays in Europe and U.S.

Individuals await COVID-19 testing at a cellular testing location alongside fifth avenue amid the unfold of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) in New York Metropolis, New York, U.S., December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar

LONDON/WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – The Netherlands went into lockdown on Sunday and the potential for extra COVID-19 restrictions being imposed forward of the Christmas and New 12 months holidays loomed over a number of European international locations because the Omicron variant spreads quickly.

In the USA, White Home medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci urged individuals travelling to go to loves ones to get booster photographs and all the time put on masks in crowded public areas.

He mentioned Omicron was "raging via the world" and that travelling will enhance the danger of an infection even amongst vaccinated individuals. For the reason that begin of the month, U.S. COVID circumstances have risen 50%, based on a Reuters tally.

Dutch city centres had been largely abandoned because the nation started a snap lockdown that threw individuals's Christmas plans into disarray.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte introduced the shutdown on Saturday night, ordering the closure of all however important shops, in addition to eating places, hairdressers, gyms, museums and different public locations from Sunday till a minimum of Jan. 14.

Omicron, a really contagious variant first detected final month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, has raced across the globe and been reported in 89 international locations, the World Well being Group mentioned on Saturday. It mentioned the variety of Omicron circumstances is doubling in 1.5 to three days in areas with group transmission, however famous that a lot stays unknown concerning the variant, together with the severity of the sickness it causes.

Whereas the Netherlands took the plunge and shut down a lot of public life to forestall its healthcare system from being overwhelmed, a number of different European governments are contemplating further curbs – at a time when companies rely on individuals spending extra closely than ordinary on buying, leisure and journey.

Total COVID infections are rising in 64 out of 240 international locations and territories tracked by Reuters, with 12 international locations recording extra circumstances than at any level through the pandemic, together with the UK.

Sajid Javid, the well being minister, declined on Sunday to rule out the prospect that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's authorities will impose additional restrictions earlier than Christmas.

He mentioned the federal government was taking the "sobering" recommendation of its scientists significantly, was watching the info intently, and would steadiness each towards the broader affect of restrictions on areas comparable to companies and training.

Johnson is reeling after a sequence of scandals and missteps, and greater than 100 of his personal Conservative lawmakers this week voted towards the federal government's newest measures to deal with what he had warned was going to be a "tidal wave" of Omicron circumstances.

Javid mentioned Johnson was not too politically weak to herald additional curbs if needed.

In Italy, the federal government is contemplating new measures to keep away from a surge in infections through the vacation interval, native newspapers reported on Sunday.

After assembly with ministers on Dec. 23, Prime Minister Mario Draghi may mandate that individuals who have been vaccinated additionally present a damaging take a look at to entry crowded locations, together with nightclubs and stadiums, every day Corriere della Sera reported.

Germany's well being minister Karl Lauterbach dominated out a Christmas lockdown on Sunday however warned a fifth COVID-19 wave may not be stopped, including that he seen necessary vaccination as the one solution to finish the pandemic. learn extra

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