Countries ease isolation to avoid paralysis by Omicron – 02/01/2022

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PARIS, January 2, 2022 (AFP) – With the advancement of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has accelerated the spread of the virus, more and more governments around the world are easing isolation rules for infected people and their contacts to avoid economic paralysis.

The high degree of omicron infection and consequent work permits and quarantines have affected communities severely, although the acceleration of infection has not yet been accompanied by an increase in mortality.

Europe, the current epicenter of the epidemic, is facing unprecedented levels of infections: more than 4.9 million cases have been registered in the past seven days, a 59% increase from the previous week, according to an AFP tally on Saturday.

And in Latin America, Ecuador announced, Saturday, that it ended the last month of 2021 with 24,287 injuries, more than double the number recorded in November (9513) and three times the number recorded in October (7556).

Meanwhile, France, which has recorded more than one million cases of infection in the past seven days, announced this Sunday the easing of isolation rules for the infected and their contacts as a way to preserve the social and economic life of the country.

Under the rules, which will take effect on Monday, people who test positive and have a full vaccination schedule will have to self-isolate for seven days instead of ten, and can reduce the period to five days if they test negative.

Those who have been in contact with these people will not need to be quarantined if they have had a full vaccination schedule.

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The French Ministry of Health said in a statement that the rule change must ensure “control of infection while preserving social and economic life.”

– ‘Living with the virus’ – In the UK, with the number of infections recorded, Health Minister Sajid Javid said there would be no new restrictions, except for an “absolute last resort”.

Just before Christmas, the British government cut the days of isolating vaccinated people who have contracted the coronavirus from ten to seven days.

“Limiting our freedom should be the absolute last resort and the British expect us to do everything we can to avoid it,” Javid wrote in an article in the Daily Mail.

“I am determined to give ourselves the best chance of living with the virus,” he added.

The UK Department of Health is responsible for health policy in England, not the rest of the UK, which has adopted new restrictive measures against the omicron variant.

For its part, the Swiss Health Authority decided, Friday, that the cantons can reduce the quarantine of people who have been in contact with an infected person from ten to seven days.

Fear of economic destabilization prompted Spain to take a decision last Wednesday to reduce the isolation of people infected with the Covid-19 virus to seven days instead of ten, to balance public health and economic growth, according to the head of government, Pedro Sanchez.

On the same day, Argentina made a similar decision to try to minimize the economic impact of a record outbreak of the infection. Portugal did this on Friday.

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By contrast, the Netherlands decided to tighten restrictions with a new confinement a week before Christmas. Thousands of people demonstrated in Amsterdam, on Sunday, against these measures, and a number of minor injuries were injured during the clashes, according to the public television station NOS.

The infection has also affected the world of sports, leading in England to postpone many Premier League matches.

And Paris Saint-Germain reported on Sunday that its Argentine star, Lionel Messi, had tested positive on the eve of the French Cup final elimination match against Vanes.

The tests also came positive for the former Brazilian player Ronaldo Phenomeno, which forced him to cancel his participation in the 101st celebrations of his first team Cruzeiro, which the club informed on Sunday.

– Optimism – South Africa considers it has already passed the peak of the Omicron wave and suspended the night-time curfew in place for 21 months on December 31.

“We are looking for a balance between people’s lives and livelihoods and the goal of saving lives,” Presidential Minister Mondli Gongupeli explained.

For Anthony Fauci, the White House adviser on the pandemic, the South African experience brings hope.

Fauci told ABC Sunday that the United States is seeing a “nearly vertical increase” in COVID-19 cases.

However, the White House adviser noted that the experience of South Africa, which quickly peaked and then declined just as quickly, brought hope.

The United States recorded more than 440,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and like other countries around the world, it is trying to find a balance to protect public health without affecting essential services.

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This Sunday, the day back from the holiday season, more than 2,000 flights in the country were canceled due to staff shortages.

To reduce absenteeism and avoid this type of situation, the recommended quarantine period has been reduced from ten to five days for people who have contracted covid-19, as long as they are asymptomatic.

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