Faced with the wave of the Omicron variant which is exploding the number of contaminations by COVID-19, more and more governments around the world are deciding to ease the rules for isolating 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 time being. , 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 a count on Saturday. In total, more than 100 million cases have been recorded there since the discovery of the virus in December 2019.
Across the Atlantic, the wave is also strong. The Dr Anthony Fauci, senior advisor to the White House on the health crisis, stressed on Sunday that the increase in cases in the United States, “almost vertical”, was “unprecedented”, with an average of almost 400,000 new infections per day.
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 self-isolate for seven days, instead of ten, 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.
This change of rules should make it possible to ensure “the control of contamination while maintaining socio-economic life”, explained the Ministry of Health.
“Living with the virus”
In the United Kingdom, which records daily contamination records, the Minister of 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” thanks to 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 increase” in hospitalizations.
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 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 ” economic growth ”, 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.
Canceled flights in the United States
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,” said Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele.
But other countries have taken or are keeping strict health restrictions such as the Netherlands, which reimposed lockdown a week before Christmas. Thousands of people demonstrated in Amsterdam on Sunday against the stringent measures taken to try to contain the epidemic. Thirty people were arrested for disturbing public order, assault, possession of a prohibited weapon and non-compliance with the police, according to the police.
Illustration of the impact of the Omicron wave, global air traffic is still experiencing numerous disruptions with flights canceled due to the lack of flight personnel, sick with COVID-19 or contact cases in quarantine.
Sunday, the day back from vacation, more than 2,500 flights to the United States were canceled, due to winter storm Frida added to the disruptions related to Omicron.
The situation should remain complicated on Monday, for the first working day of 2022, with more than 2,000 flights already canceled.
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.