As the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus becomes the dominant variant of the coronavirus, governments around the world are acting aggressively to get their populations vaccinated against the virus. As China mass tests its population in Tianjin after Omicron cases are detected, the UK has called on pregnant women to get vaccinated.
The United States, on the other hand, faces a daunting challenge, with many healthcare workers reporting sick as cases of the Omicron variant increase. France reflects on the softness of the unvaccinated population after President Emmanuel Macron’s stern anti-vaccine warning drew criticism.
Here’s a look at how countries around the world are dealing with the latest wave of Covid:
The UK government has launched an advertising campaign encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated or take booster doses against Covid-19, a report in The Guardian noted.
The move comes after the Department of Health and Social Affairs cited statistics from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System which showed that 96.3% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptoms of Covid-19 between May and October were not vaccinated. The report also indicated that a third of these women needed respiratory assistance.
Read | Booster dose provides high levels of protection against Omicron infections in older people: UK study
The ad campaign would run on radio and social media and urge pregnant women not to wait to receive their first, second or booster.
China has ordered residents of Tianjin city to stay at home while it carries out Covid-19 mass testing after a string of recent cases, including two caused by the Omicron variant, according to AFP.
Tianjin began mass testing its 14 million residents on Sunday after a group of 20 children and adults tested positive for Covid-19, at least two of them with the Omicron variant.
China has stepped up its strict zero tolerance strategy ahead of the Winter Olympics, which begin on February 4. The Chinese capital Beijing is 115 kilometers (70 miles) northwest of Tianjin, and many people commute between the two regularly. cities.
The global tally of Covid-19 cases in the United States surpassed 60 million on Sunday, according to research from Johns Hopkins University. The virus has killed 837,594 people in the United States since January 2020, research shows.
The United States, which is among the countries most affected by Covid-19 in the world, accounts for around 20% of the global workload and more than 15% of global mortality.
Read | Omicron surge pushes Covid hospitalizations in US to record high
The country faces another healthcare crisis as at least 24% of hospitals report a “critical understaffing”, CNN reported.
“Given the scale of the infection, our hospitals are really on the brink right now,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, told CNN on Sunday.
Nepal’s Covid-19 task force on Sunday released a series of recommendations such as restrictions on gatherings, school closures and mandatory vaccination cards in public places to stem the surge in coronavirus infections.
According to data viewed by the PTI, Nepal reported 1,167 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, with 224 recoveries and two deaths. The country has also confirmed 27 cases of the Omicron variant.
The restrictions include banning gatherings of more than 25 people, closing schools until January 29, vaccinating students aged 12 to 17,
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Sunday the government would study the reliability of rapid antigenic tests to detect the Omicron variant.
“We don’t know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron,” Lauterbach said, as quoted by Reuters. The results of the assessment would be available in the coming weeks, he added.
Lauterbach said, however, that “the alternative of not testing at all … would be far too dangerous”.
Read also | Covaxin Booster May Provide Long-Term Immunity Against Severe Covid, Says Bharat Biotech
Almost 44% of Covid-19 cases in Germany are of the Omicron variant, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases. On Sunday, RKI recorded 36,552 new cases of Covid-19 reported within 24 hours, three times more than a week earlier.
The Israeli government plans to encourage home testing for Covid-19. In this sense, the government is negotiating price cuts with large drugstore chains, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“Either way, the costs will come down in the near future as the market will be flooded with millions of kits arriving in Israel,” Bennett said.
Bennett also announced that every kindergarten or elementary school child will receive three free Covid-19 test kits in the coming days.
In the face of aggressive anti-vaccine protests, the French government opposes its previous position to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for citizens. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said a mandatory prescription would not be the most effective way to encourage people not vaccinated against Covid-19 to get bitten, adding that plans to tighten up Health pass conditions were already paying off, Reuters reported.
Read also | After Omicron, are new coronavirus variants increasing cases in France?
It comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said last week that he wanted to “irritate” the unvaccinated by making life so difficult for them that they would get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The French must already present either proof of vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative test to enter restaurants and use interregional trains. With cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus soaring, the French parliament is debating legislation that will abandon the option of testing.
The Omicron outbreak in Sydeny, Australia’s most populous state, could peak by the end of January, officials cited by Reuters said. It comes after state authorities reinstated some restrictions in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet urged parents to get their children vaccinated as he rolls out a vaccination campaign for 5-11 year olds, according to skynews.com.au.
Austria has imposed new Covid-19 measures, including shortening quarantine times to five days, forcing people to wear masks outside when in crowds, and limiting validity to six months vaccine certificates, Reuters reported. The government will also step up inspections to ensure stores only allow access to people who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19.
The country’s government is working on a bill to make vaccinations mandatory from February 1 as the highly contagious variant of Omicron spreads, Reuters reported.