Many countries, including France, are facing a fifth wave of the epidemic. The first positive cases for the Omicron variant in France were detected on Thursday and the prospect of it spreading very quickly worries infectious disease specialists. Follow all the news related to Covid-19 in France and around the world.
Kindergartens and primary schools in Belgium will close their doors for Christmas holidays a week in advance, in an attempt to limit Covid-19 contamination, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.
“We must take measures to reduce as quickly as possible the pressure on hospitals” which is “not tenable”, said the head of government, unveiling a tightening of restrictions in the country from Saturday, in the face of “an autumnal wave much heavier than expected”.
Switzerland will remove the quarantine requirement on entry into the country for people vaccinated against Covid-19 as of Saturday, but will tighten the testing requirements, announced the Minister of Health, Alain Berset.
On the other hand, unvaccinated people, who wish to enter Switzerland from a country or a region of the Shengen space, qualified at risk by the Swiss authorities, for a tourist or private trip “will no longer be able to do so”, declared M Berset, during a press briefing.
Since November 25, the date of the last health measures announced by the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, more than 5.5 million appointments have been made on the Doctolib platform.
Traveling this Friday in Deux-Sèvres, Gabriel Attal, government spokesperson, called on the French to “choose collective responsibility and vaccination”, in order to “be able to spend Christmas together”.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Maritime Transport (ICS), the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) jointly call on governments “not to reimpose border restrictions that further limit the freedom of movement of international transport workers and learn from the lessons of the past two years ”.
“The Omicron variant has probably been in circulation for several weeks,” Olivier Véran told France Info this Friday. According to the Minister of Health, several laboratories had sequenced several suspected positive cases which “had been diagnosed more than a week ago even before the Omicron variant was tracked in Europe”.
In the United States, five cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed Thursday in New York State, one in California, one in Minnesota and one in Hawaii, bringing the total of confirmed cases so far in the country to ten. . In Minnesota, the infected person had traveled to New York but had not traveled overseas. And in Hawaii, the patient was unvaccinated but had not traveled, showing that the variant has started to be transmitted between people within the United States. “This is a case of local transmission,” the Hawaii Department of Health confirmed in a statement.
Australia announced Friday that it had detected a first case of the Omicron variant in Sydney in a student who had not traveled abroad.