Faced with the new wave of the Omicron variant which is exploding the number of Covid-19 contaminations, more and more governments around the world are forced to lighten the rules for the isolation of patients and their relatives to avoid economic paralysis .
The extreme contagiousness of Omicron – and its impressive procession of work stoppages and quarantines – weighs heavily on the organization of the company, even if the acceleration of contaminations is not accompanied, for the moment. , an increase in deaths.
The first region concerned, Europe – the current epicenter of the pandemic – is facing unprecedented levels of contamination: more than 4.9 million infections have been recorded in the last seven days, or 59% more than the previous week, according to an AFP count on Saturday. In total, more than 100 million cases have been recorded there since the discovery of the virus in December 2019.
To preserve socio-economic life, France – where more than a million cases have been detected in the last seven days – announced on Sunday the relaxation of the rules for the isolation of infected people and their contacts from Monday, thus joining the growing list of countries reducing quarantine times.
Completely vaccinated positive people will now have to isolate themselves for seven days, instead of ten, regardless of the variant, an isolation that can be lifted after five days in the event of a negative test. And there will be no more quarantine for contact cases with a complete vaccination schedule. A change of rules which should make it possible to ensure “the control of contaminations while maintaining socio-economic life”, explained the Ministry of Health in a press release.
And in the United Kingdom, which records daily contamination records, the British Minister for Health, Sajid Javid, indicated on Saturday that new restrictions would only intervene “as a last resort” in England. Shortly before Christmas, the British government reduced the isolation period there from ten to seven days for vaccinated people who contracted the coronavirus.
Stressing “the enormous health, social and economic cost of confinements”, Mr. Javid felt that it was necessary to give oneself the means to “live with the virus” through vaccination, an arsenal of treatments and massive screening, in a column published in the Daily Mail. The minister however acknowledged that the health service would be “inevitably” under pressure in the coming weeks because of a “sharp rise” in hospitalizations.
On Friday, the Swiss health authority also decided that the cantons could reduce the quarantine of contact cases to seven days against ten previously and limit it “to people living together or having been in intimate contact with a person who tested positive”.
Fears of destabilization of the economy had already led Spain to decide, on Wednesday, to reduce the forty people positive for Covid-19 to seven days against ten previously, in order to find a balance between “public health” and “growth economic “, according to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
On the same day, Argentina took a similar decision in an attempt to minimize the impact on economic activity of a record spike in cases in its territory. Portugal decided on the same measure on Friday.
South Africa, believing to have passed the peak of the Omicron wave, for its part abolished the night curfew in force for 21 months on December 31. “We seek to find a balance between people’s lives, their livelihoods, and the goal of saving lives,” Minister Mondli Gungubele told the Presidency.
Illustration of the impact of the Omicron wave, global air traffic is still experiencing many disruptions. Pilots and flight attendants being absent after contracting Covid-19 or contact and therefore in quarantine, airlines are forced to cancel flights.
On Saturday, in the United States, where the unfavorable weather is added to the disruptions linked to the epidemic outbreak, some 2,660 flights were canceled, more than half of the 4,617 that were canceled globally, around 7:30 p.m. (00:30 GMT) , according to the FlightAware website.
To limit absences and thus avoid blockages and shortages, Joe Biden’s administration decided on Monday to reduce the recommended quarantine period from ten to five days for people positive for Covid, provided they are asymptomatic.
Reminder of the rules currently in force in Belgium
1) you have no symptoms: 10 days in isolation.
2) you have symptoms: count 3 more days without temperature, and with a significant alleviation of symptoms.
3) you are hospitalized: 14 days in isolation after the onset of symptoms, 21 days if you have been in intensive care.
Quarantine (high risk contact):
1) Vaccinated people can be released from quarantine after taking a negative test.
2) Unvaccinated people can be released from quarantine after performing a second negative test on day 7.