Covid-19: 13 million inhabitants confined in China, Omicron continues its meteoric growth

The 000 million inhabitants of Xi’an, China, began strict containment on Thursday due to a rebound of the Covid epidemic – 13 one and a half months before the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, while elsewhere in the world, the new variant Omicron continues its meteoric progression, leading to new restrictions in Europe. dozens per day only. The authorities redoubled their vigilance as the opening of the Olympic Games approached on February 4.

Thus, after the appearance of a hundred cases in the city, all the inhabitants of Xi ‘an must since Thursday midnight stay at home “unless there is a compelling reason”. Only one person per household is allowed to go out shopping every two days. All “non-essential” businesses have had to close. Residents can no longer leave the city without authorization, and the entire population will be screened.

These draconian measures contrast with the low number of cases recorded in China, where the Covid- 19 only contaminated a little more than 100. 000 people since the start of the pandemic.

In the UK, a record of 106. new cases were recorded for the single day of Wednesday. The country, among the hardest hit in the world (more than 147. 500 dead), is trying to speed up vaccination. Almost a million booster doses are given every day.

Spain also recorded a daily record of over 60. 000 case Wednesday. Faced with this outbreak, the government will once again make it compulsory to wear a mask in the open air from Christmas.

New measures come into force Thursday in Sweden: teleworking must be privileged , and public events bringing together more than 500 people will have to require a vaccination pass.

“Omicron is becoming, or has already become, dominant in several countries including Denmark, Portugal and the UK, where the numbers are doubling every one and a half to three days, leading to unprecedented rates of transmission, “said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO director for Europe.

– The illusion of recalls –

The boss of the organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned against the illusion that it would be enough to administer booster doses to get out of the pandemic.

“Indiscriminate booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than end it, by diverting the available doses to countries which already have high vaccination rates, thus offering the virus more possibilities to spread and mutate “, he stressed.

In the United States United, the annual Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles and scheduled for next month, will be postponed due to the Omicron threat. The 2022 edition of the Oscars has not yet been called into question and is still scheduled for 19 March.

Omicron is already largely dominant (73% of new contaminations) in the United States.

– Less risk of hospitalization –

Two British studies published on Wednesday show, however, that infections with the Omicron variant are less likely to cause hospitalizations compared to the Delta variant, confirming a trend first observed in South Africa.

These preliminary studies – one from Scotland, the other from England – were welcomed by experts, who were however cautious.

“This is good news with nuances,” said Scottish study co-author Jim McMenamin.

According to this study, the risks of hospitalization because of Omicron are reduced by two thirds compared to Delta. The English study notes a reduction from 27 to 45% of hospitalizations for one night or more.

Clinical data in recent weeks suggests that Omicron is no more dangerous than its predecessors, including Delta. But scientists warn against an optical effect.

Because if Omicron is less dangerous, it is much more contagious. The consequences could therefore be serious at the collective level.

The number of cases, which seems to double every two to three days, could automatically lead to an increase in the number of hospitalized patients – in particular the unvaccinated and so-called fragile people (very old, or immunocompromised, for example) – and once again overwhelm health systems. Even considered for the moment as less fatal, the Omicron variant may well cause more deaths.

The pandemic has made at least 5. 368. 777 million dead in the world since the end 2019, according to a report established by AFP from official sources on Wednesday. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the actual toll could be two to three times higher.

burx-roc / mlb