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Peak omicron? Experts warn not to fall into that trap

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Britain’s seven-day average of cases has dropped by 30,000 from its peak,

The surge in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant may have peaked in parts of Europe, but medics say its effects will continue to be felt across the region, with hospitals still at risk of facing admission rush.

Health experts and politicians have warned against complacency, saying it is not yet clear whether their data reflects the full impact of the Christmas and New Year holidays, when families gather indoors for long periods of time and remain vulnerable to the virus. The risk of intergenerational spread may be high.

Furthermore, although vaccination and the low severity of the Omicron variant mean hospitalizations are lower than in previous waves of COVID-19 infections, Europe still accounts for nearly half of global cases and deaths.

But there are growing signs that the increase in infections caused by the Omicron variant, which was first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong, is rising or falling in some regions.

Britain’s seven-day average of cases has dropped by 30,000 from its peak, with Spain’s prime minister saying infection numbers are stabilizing and a French public health institute saying the wave will peak in mid-January.

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Europe director, said this week: “We see many places where the peak is being reached or has been reached. It may be a little earlier than expected, but remember that the region is very diverse.” “

“So we have to take into account the eastern part of the region, the Central Asian republics, where this summit may still occur.”

Health officials in Sweden and Switzerland have said that the peak is expected in both of those countries by the end of this month.

Tanja Stadler, head of Switzerland’s COVID-19 Science Task Force, told reporters: “If people-to-people contact remains at the same level, we could peak within the next two weeks. It will take time.” Tuesday.

The trend echoes the omicron wave in Africa, which the WHO’s Africa office said appears to be plateauing, making it the lowest increase in cases so far.

Denmark, where Omicron cases dominate, eased some restrictions this week, with the health minister saying the pandemic was now under control in the country.

Britain’s Office of National Statistics has said the growth of infections in England has slowed. One in 15 people were estimated to have been infected in the week ending January 6, which was similar to the previous week.

caution is exercised

Despite the positive signs, politicians remain cautious.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday that the hospitalization rate was starting to slow, but the healthcare system would remain under pressure over the next few weeks.

“Omicron’s far greater transmissibility still has the potential to take large numbers of people to the hospital,” he said.

He said there were encouraging signs that infections were falling in London and the east of England, but “we are still seeing infections in other parts of the country and the data does not yet reflect the impact of people returning to work and school”. After Christmas and New Years.

Scotland, which imposed stricter restrictions than England to counter Omicron, will begin lifting those measures from Monday.

But, stabilization in the number of cases is not being seen everywhere, Italy’s National Institute of Health said on Friday, adding that the number of weekly incidences and hospital bed stays continued to rise this week.

German virologist Christian Drosten warned on Friday that there were too many cases of Omicron and that its being mild compared to other variants made little sense of it, and Germany’s health minister said more coronavirus restrictions could lead to hospitals being overwhelmed. may be required.

While Omicron was initially spreading rapidly among young people, epidemiologists have said that its effect on hospitalization may be unpredictable as it moves into older age groups, even if headline case numbers are reduced.

But the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, which collects data on self-reported symptoms to estimate the spread in the UK, has found the omicron wave has peaked, and cases in the elderly have stabilized at low levels.

“As it went up very fast, it also came down very fast and I think that’s good news, it means there will be less pressure on hospitals,” Tim Spector, the app’s lead scientist, told Reuters.

Still, the Omicron version won’t disappear, he said.

“It’s just so contagious, there’s no way we can pretend it’s going to go down to a trivial level, but it has to be a manageable level,” he said.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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