Coronavirus digest: German well being minister warns of ′large′ omicron wave | Information | DW

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned on Friday of a “massive fifth wave” of the coronavirus that the country is facing with the arrival of the Omicron variant.

At a press conference in Hanover, Lauterbach said: “We have to prepare for a challenge that we have not yet had in this form.”

He added that even if the variant is “milder” it may ultimately “make no difference”.

With a view to the Christmas holidays that are just around the corner, Lauterbach appealed to holidaymakers to have themselves tested regularly.

Here is a roundup of more coronavirus news from around the world

Europe

Germany The Robert Koch Institute recorded a sustained decline in infections. 50,968 new infections were reported on Friday, over 10,000 fewer than a week ago.

The nationwide seven-day incidence rate also fell further to 331.8 from 340.1 the previous day. Germany recently introduced a number of new restrictions, particularly those that apply to unvaccinated people.

Oceania

The Australian state of New South Wales reported a record 2,213 new infections on Friday, the highest number since the pandemic began. However, state prime minister Dominic Perrottet said he has no plans to revert to previously imposed bans and restrictions to keep the spread of the virus in check, now that 93.3% of the eligible population are vaccinated.

The new high followed the 1,742 cases reported Thursday in New South Wales state, which broke the previous September record.

The state government uses hospital admissions, in particular the number of patients in the intensive care unit, as an indicator of the severity of the pandemic. On Friday there were 24 people in intensive care units.

New South Wales on Wednesday relaxed the rules for wearing masks and the need to show proof of vaccination in some locations to better allow unvaccinated people to attend social events.

Africa

The infection rates are skyrocketing South Africa as a result of the Omicron variant, but fewer people have died or hospitalized compared to previous waves of COVID, health officials said.

On Wednesday, South Africa recorded the highest number of infections the country has ever seen, but “hospital admissions are not increasing as dramatically,” said Michelle Groome of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said the data does not mean that Omicron is less virulent, but that vaccines are more likely to prevent serious diseases.

“It’s probably because of the high vaccination density,” he said, especially among the elderly.

America

All US military services have now started taking disciplinary action and dismissing troops who have refused to receive the mandatory coronavirus vaccine, officials said, with up to 20,000 unvaccinated workers at risk of retirement.

On Thursday, the Marine Corps said it has so far released 103 Marines for refusing to receive the vaccine, and the Army said it has reprimanded more than 2,700 soldiers and will begin a discharge process in January. The Air Force announced earlier this week that 27 airmen had been fired for refusing to order vaccines.

At least 30,000 soldiers have not yet been vaccinated, according to the services, but several thousand of them have received temporary or permanent medical or regulatory exemptions.

US President Joe Biden warned Thursday of a “winter of serious illness and death” for those not vaccinated against COVID-19 as the G7 identified the Omicron variant as the greatest threat to global public health.

Biden’s warning of winter came when he urged Americans who have already received two vaccinations to get booster vaccinations and vaccine skeptics to come forward and get a sting.

“The only real protection is to get a vaccination,” he said. The White House said the government has no intention of taking specific restrictive measures and is instead focusing on vaccination.

The World Health Organization said earlier this week that the strain has been reported in 77 countries and has “likely” spread undetected at a faster rate in most countries than any previous variant of the virus.

Canada The province of Quebec will reintroduce measures in bars, restaurants and shops to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, said the provincial prime minister Francois Legault.

Citing a “critical” situation, he also called on the provincial residents to limit private gatherings to a maximum of 10 people during the holidays. After the winter break, high schools and universities will switch to virtual learning for at least a week.

As of Monday, shops, bars, restaurants, theaters, places of worship and sports facilities must reduce the amount to 50% of capacity. Sports competitions in the province will be suspended, while dance clubs and karaoke bars will have to close just weeks after they reopen.

At least 3,700 new cases were registered on Thursday, beating the previous daily case record from January, authorities said.

lc / sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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