Roundup: Omicron to account for half Europe cases ‘in few months’: ECDC

Madrid Desk, Dec 2 (EFE).- The new Omicron variant could soon account for half the coronavirus infections in Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned Thursday.

The ECDC said that current evidence on transmissibility, severity, and immune escape for Omicron is “highly uncertain”, but that early evidence from South Africa suggests that it “may have a substantial growth advantage over the Delta variant.”

Based on those models, “the Omicron VOC is expected to cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months,” the ECDC said.

The head of the Stockholm-based agency, Andrea Ammon, admitted that evidence on Omicron is still “limited” and that a multi-layered approach is needed to curb its spread.

In Germany, authorities will apply restrictions against non-vaccinated people nationally and implement mandatory vaccination from February 2022, outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with her presumed successor, Olaf Scholz and the country’s state prime ministers, amid calls for a coordinated national approach.

The measures include the closure of nightlife venues if a certain threshold of infections is passed, as well as restrictions on public events and contacts, especially among unvaccinated citizens, who will not be allowed to meet with people outside of their family nucleus.

In Italy, a court ruled Thursday that doctors and other healthcare workers cannot refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus.

The Italian Council of State, a body that monitors administrative decisions, made the ruling in rejecting an appeal by a physician who was dismissed from his position in the public health system for refusing the vaccine.

Health care workers, “by law and even more so by the so-called ‘Hippocratic oath'” are “obliged to do everything possible to cure the sick, and never to create or aggravate the danger of contagion of the patient with whom they are in direct contact in the exercise of their professional activity,” the Council said in its decision.

Italy also announced that it would start vaccinating children between 5 and 11 years of age against Covid on Dec. 16.

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