United Kingdom recorded the highest number of daily cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 78,610 infections reported this Wednesday.
The highest daily figure so far was 68,053, registered on January 8, when the nation was in strict quarantine.
At a press conference, England’s medical adviser Chris Whitty warned on Wednesday that the numbers will continue to rise in the coming weeks, with new daily records, and that “the worst is yet to come”.
“We are experiencing two pandemics,” said Whitty, who spoke on camera alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He referred to that caused by the two variants of SARS-CoV-2 behind the majority of positive cases in the country: the omicroncharacterized by “very rapid growth”, and the delta, which continues to circulate.
“I fear that we have to be realistic that records will continue to be broken in the following weeks, “he added.
Given this, the authorities have asked citizens to be extremely cautious, especially considering the proximity of the Christmas dates.
The British government has accelerated the plan to the booster shot and established that everyone over 18 should receive it after Johnson said last week that the country was facing an “emergency” by omicron.
The prime minister reiterated on Wednesday that it is “absolutely vital” that everyone receives the third dose.
On the Christmas and New Year celebrations, Whitty asked citizens not to meet if they don’t have to.
“You don’t need a medical degree to figure out what makes sense to do with an incredibly infectious virus,” he said.
Until this Wednesday, taking more restrictive measures had been ruled out. And the prime minister denied on Thursday the allegations of some parliamentarians from his own party that the hospitality sector is being forced into de facto confinement.
The use of a mask is mandatory in closed establishments, as well as in public transport; It is advisable to work from home if possible and some establishments are obliged to ask users for a vaccination certificate or a negative test to allow them access.
Two simultaneous variants
Infections caused by the new omicron variant are increasing rapidly, doubling every two or three days.
The head of the UK Health Security Agency, Jenny Harries, warned that omicron is “probably the most significant threat” since the pandemic began.
And the executive director of the National Health System (NHS) said Wednesday’s figures “should concern us all.”
But despite the dizzying increase in cases, omicron is not yet the dominant variant.
The latest data suggest that approximately a quarter of cases are omicron positive; in Wednesday’s figures, 20,000 of the 79,000 registered.
The most likely scenario is that both variants will continue to circulate for a while, but that omicron will eventually become predominant.
The evidence collected to date suggests that omicron may cause a milder version of the disease than other variants, with lower hospitalization rates.
A preliminary study conducted in South Africa pointed to this conclusion, specifying that the risk of hospital admission among adults infected with omicron was 29% lower than in the initial pandemic wave.
British health officials have asked to take these conclusions with great caution, as there are still many unanswered questions about the new variant.
The main fear of the authorities in the United Kingdom is that due to the large increase in cases, hospitals will end up collapsing.
“I am afraid there will be an increasing number of omicron patients entering the NHS, hospitalized, in intensive care,” he said.
“That will start to become apparent, in my opinion, shortly after Christmas.”
Queen Elizabeth II canceled her traditional pre-Christmas lunch for the family on Thursday as a precaution. A source said it was felt that the annual event could put many people at risk.
More restrictions in Europe
In an attempt to slow the spread of the omicron variant, France tightened restrictions for all travelers arriving from the UK.
The French prime minister’s office said that from Saturday all non-residents will have to give a compelling reason to travel to France.
They will also have to provide a negative COVID-19 test done within the previous 24 hours and isolate themselves for at least two days.
France registered 65,713 new cases this Wednesday, only 240 of them by omicron.
But it is not the only European country that is adopting strict measures.
Denmark decided to advance the vacation period in the elementary schools, which will be closed until January 4. And the intention is that by then the minors between 5 and 11 years old are vaccinated.
The Netherlands made a similar decision.
Meanwhile, there are several countries that are applying the booster vaccine.
Israel is the country with the highest percentage of the population vaccinated with the third dose (44%), followed by the United Kingdom (35%), Germany (24%), France (20%), Italy and Spain (19% both), and the United States (16%).
Italy will require a negative covid test from all travelers, including vaccinated ones, before entering the country. It can be an antigen test, which must be performed 24 hours prior to departure, or a PCR, which must be performed within 48 hours prior to departure.
Norway it has closed gyms and swimming pools and demanded that restaurants and bars not sell alcohol.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on November 26 that it considered the omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, of concern.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.