Categories: Health
| On 2 months ago

Europe is on edge due to an increase in Omicron Variant Cases

By Aswin Kumar

LONDON, UK — On Sunday, confirmed cases of the Omicron variety increased dramatically in the United Kingdom and Denmark, confirming scientists’ fears that it has already spread farther despite travel prohibitions and raising fears of fresh lockdowns before the holidays.

With cases of the Omicron variant on the rise in Europe, there are fears that even more restrictions would be imposed during the holiday season, which many had anticipated would usher in a return to normalcy.

The coronavirus variation has been discovered in at least 45 countries around the world, with fresh cases being reported in the United States and much of Europe in recent days.

On Sunday, the UK’s health security service confirmed that 246 cases of the variation had been discovered, nearly doubling the overall number of cases reported on Friday. The local health authorities in Denmark confirmed 183 known instances of the variation, which is more than quadruple the total number of suspected cases reported on Friday, and described the results as “worrying.”

Because both countries are largely regarded as leaders in genome sequencing and testing, they are discovering the mutation in part because they are looking for it so carefully. In the United Kingdom, scientists are concentrating their genome sequencing efforts on overseas travelers and contacts of those who have previously been infected with the Omicron form — two groups that are more likely to have been exposed.

Nonetheless, the announcements show that the number of Omicron instances is rapidly increasing. What this means in terms of public health is less clear.

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Many uncertainties remain regarding the variant, including how easily it can be transmitted, how well immunizations will protect against it, and how likely it is to cause serious disease.

To try to slow its spread, a number of travel restrictions have been enforced, especially in the United States and Europe.

However, given the lockdown in much of Europe last winter, some European governments have been reticent to impose sweeping new domestic restrictions ahead of a highly anticipated season of travel and large gatherings. Instead, several have chosen to focus on restricting international travel or requiring greater testing for travelers.

“I think that might be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted,” Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh who advises the government, told the BBC.

Unvaccinated people are barred from much of public life in Germany. In a sign of the gravity of the crisis, the German government, which had been cautious to impose government mandates in the wake of the pandemic due to the country’s history of authoritarianism, has announced intentions to make vaccines mandatory next year.

The limits have already been met with resistance in several countries. For the second weekend in a row, tens of thousands marched in Austria in protest of the government’s decision to impose a harsh new lockdown and its intentions for a vaccine mandate.

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Aswin Kumar

A creative science nerd! Buy me a coffee: buymeacoffee.com/aswinkumar

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