New COVID-19 restrictions in China and Europe as US halves isolation for asymptomatic cases

Contact restrictions were in place in Germany for the second year in a row heading into the new year as Europe’s largest economy closed nightclubs and forced sports competitions behind closed doors.

Despite the fact that China is facing a much smaller outbreak compared to global virus hotspots, China has not relaxed its “zero COVID” strategy, imposing stay-at-home orders in many parts of the city of Yan’an.

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The hundreds of thousands of affected residents joined the 13 million people in the city of Xi’an, who went into a sixth day of home detention as China struggled with its highest daily case count in 21 months.

“I’m about to starve to death,” a resident of Xi’an wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

“There is no food, my home will not shut me out and I am running out of instant noodles … please help!”

Many Xi’an residents have similarly complained on social media about the restrictions, which include a ban on driving and only allowing one member of a household to go outside to buy groceries every three days.

This shutdown is the most pervasive in China since the similar-sized city of Wuhan was cut off from the world in the early days of the pandemic.

‘Widespread disturbance’

The highly transferable Omicron variant has accelerated increases in many countries, with the Netherlands and Switzerland both saying on Tuesday that it has become the dominant tribe in their countries.

France, Britain, Greece and Portugal all reported record daily case numbers on Tuesday, with France reporting nearly 180,000 infections within the last 24 hours.

The WHO warned against complacency, although preliminary results suggest that Omicron causes milder disease.

Despite the studies, Omicron’s rapid growth will “still result in a large number of hospital admissions, particularly among unvaccinated groups, and cause widespread disruption to health systems and other critical services,” warned WHO Europe’s COVID Incident Manager Catherine Smallwood.

To hold back the tide, European nations brought back curbs with painful economic and social consequences.

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Finland said on Tuesday it would prevent unvaccinated foreign travelers from entering. Only residents, essential workers or diplomats will be exempt.

The Nordic country, like Sweden, had started demanding negative tests for incoming non-resident travelers from Tuesday, a day after Denmark – which currently has the world’s highest infection rate per capita. per capita – applied the same measure.

In Germany, private gatherings are now limited to 10 vaccinated persons – or two households where unvaccinated persons are present – and nightclubs have been closed. All sports competitions will now be held behind closed doors.

But a Belgian court thwarted Prime Minister Alexander De Croos’ plans to impose further restrictions by suspending an order to close entertainment venues.

Travel chaos

In addition to social strife, the pandemic has punished financially, especially for sectors such as travel.

About 11,500 planes have been scrapped worldwide since Friday, and tens of thousands more delayed during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Several airlines have blamed staff shortages caused by increases in Omicron cases.

The rise in the US has been driven by the Omicron variant, as well as large pockets of unvaccinated residents and lack of access to quick and easy testing.

But US President Joe Biden offered the travel sector a respite on Tuesday by announcing an end to a travel ban for eight South African countries that was introduced in response to the advent of Omicron.

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Sir. Biden said Monday that some U.S. hospitals could be “overrun,” but that the country was generally well prepared.

He stressed that Omicron would not have the same effect as the first COVID-19 outbreak or the Delta variant increase this year.

In an effort to prevent mass labor shortages during the rise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reduced the isolation period for asymptomatic cases from 10 to five days.

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