Tuesday, January 25

Why it matters. Covid-19: the dreaded consequences of the “tsunami” of contaminations in the world

In recent days, the epidemic has experienced an outbreak, with a record number of contaminations in the world over the past week. More than 935,000 cases of Covid-19 on average were detected every day between December 22 and 28, a number not yet reached since the start of the pandemic at the end of 2019, which represents an increase of 37% compared to the week previous, according to an AFP count made from official reports.

This “tsunami” of Covid-19 cases has serious consequences around the world.

Health systems at risk of ‘collapse’

First of all, this “tsunami” of contamination due to the Omicron and Delta variants is straining health systems, already on the verge of “collapse”, warned on Wednesday the World Health Organization (WHO ).

The head of the World Health Organization has once again sounded the alarm: “I am very concerned that the more transmissible Omicron circulating at the same time as Delta is causing a tsunami of cases. This is and will continue to put immense pressure on an exhausted health workforce and health systems on the brink of collapse ”.

This pressure is not only due to new patients, but also to the large number of healthcare workers falling ill, added Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Risk of accelerating the number of cases

Another concern: the extreme contagiousness of the Omicron variant will lead to a “doubling rate (of cases) of two to three days”, noted the WHO in its weekly epidemiological bulletin, despite preliminary data suggesting a lower risk of hospitalization linked to Omicron.

“Reliable evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling rate of two to three days.”

These countries which have broken contamination records

Most of the new infections – on the rise globally since mid-October – are found in Europe where several countries have recorded new records of daily cases. As in France, with 208,000 cases recorded Wednesday for the past 24 hours.

Denmark, currently the country in the world with the most new cases relative to its population, similarly smashed its record, with 23,228 additional cases in 24 hours. A peak in contamination was also reached in the United Kingdom on Tuesday: nearly 130,000 cases in England and Wales.

Spain, Portugal and Greece have also seen the contamination explode.
Identical situation on the other side of the Atlantic.

With more than 265,000 daily cases on average for a week, the United States faces a record of infections. Argentina has also experienced a spectacular spread of the virus, with nearly 34,000 new infections in the last 24 hours.

High risk of hospitalizations in unvaccinated people

But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus still warned the unvaccinated: “Unvaccinated people are much more likely to die from one or the other of these variants.”

A rapid rise in Omicron will still lead to a large number of hospitalizations

“A rapid rise in Omicron, like the one we are seeing in several countries, even if it were combined with a slightly less serious illness, will still lead to a large number of hospitalizations, especially among the unvaccinated,” said Tuesday Catherine Smallwood, one of the main officials of WHO Europe.

The specialist called for taking preliminary data on a lower risk of hospitalization “with caution” because, for the time being, the cases observed mainly concern “young and healthy populations in countries with high vaccination rates” .

So far, the explosion of the pandemic has not translated into an overall increase in the number of deaths, which have been declining for three weeks worldwide.

Turbulence in the aviation sector

Closed countries, movement restrictions and general uncertainty not very conducive to travel plans: the Omicron variant risks spoiling the start of the year 2022 for European air transport, which nevertheless hoped to have passed the worst of a historic crisis. The companies are notably subjected to the ban on travelers without compelling reasons from the United Kingdom to France and Germany and the closure of Morocco’s borders.

According to the organization Eurocontrol, which monitors aircraft movements on the Old Continent, these have experienced a continuous increase before the holiday season, and reached 76.3% of 2019 traffic on December 19, before the pandemic.

New restrictions

Faced with this new wave, mainly linked to the Omicron variant, many countries have implemented new restrictions. France announced a series of new measures on Monday, and a curfew was introduced in Reunion from Saturday evening. But other countries have more stringent restrictions.

China, which records an epidemic outbreak within 40 days of the Beijing Winter Olympics, confined tens of thousands of additional people on Tuesday. After the city of Xi’an (north) subjected for a week to quarantine and which is now experiencing supply difficulties, several tens of thousands of inhabitants of a district of the city of Yan’an, 300 kilometers from Xi’an, were instructed on Tuesday to stay at home as businesses were scheduled to close. China on Tuesday reported 209 new patients in 24 hours, the highest number in 21 months.

In Germany, where a new battery of restrictions came into force on Tuesday, the Minister of Health is preparing the spirits for a new turn of the screw. “The current measures (…) will not be enough to prevent a significant increase in cases of infection linked to Omicron,” said Karl Lauterbach.

South Africa, which announced last week the end of the tracing of contact cases of people tested positive for Covid-19, reversed this decision.


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