Europe is in the grip of omicron. Why are countries following suit

2022-07-31 0 By

Under pressure from a public weary of COVID-19, Europe is speeding up the lifting of novel Coronavirus restrictions as politicians see many public health measures as increasingly unnecessary.Because efforts to contain the fast-spreading mutant strain of Omicron have been largely futile.Why are European countries following suit and easing quarantine restrictions?Under pressure from a public weary of the pandemic, politicians across the region are reportedly seeing many public health measures as increasingly unnecessary.Italy, Switzerland and Finland will join Denmark, Ireland, Norway and France in rushing to loosen most restrictions on public life.Although the Novel Coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the continent, with more than 2.4 million cases in the past two days, the alert level has been lowered.The health care system proved resilient, as the omicron variant strain caused milder symptoms and most people were protected by the vaccine.Germany is one of the few outliers.Europe’s largest economy has shown no inclination to relax measures that bar unvaccinated people from restaurants, cinemas and non-essential shops.Karl Lauterbach, a Harvard-trained epidemiologist and Germany’s federal health minister, warned that cases would not peak until mid-February.The picture is different elsewhere in Europe, where some countries see steadily falling hospitalisation rates as an invitation to relax the rules of the epidemic.’We should talk about whether it’s time to take a different step and start lifting restrictions,’ Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters in Helsinki, the capital, ahead of discussions on lifting restrictions.Even though the number of infections is high now, I hope to be able to lift the outbreak restrictions in February.At the meeting, the government decided to lift all restrictions on gatherings on February 14, relax restrictions on restaurants and bars, and close nightclubs until March 1, Marin told reporters.These decisions leave cultural venues and activities, as well as sports, unrestricted.Public health experts are warning that the risk from COVID-19 is not over and that more harmful variants could still emerge, exposing people to the disease without proper precautions, in response to the relaxation of controls across Europe.The WHO urged governments to relax gradually where possible and continue to use social distancing and masks to prevent resurgence.’My biggest fear right now is that countries are following suit,’ Said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of who’s Health Emergencies Program, at a media briefing.While some countries may indeed have room to adjust measures, others may choose to do so because of political pressure.Switzerland is expected to announce the start of a relaxed quarantine program soon.The number of hospitalizations and deaths caused by the virus has held steady, even as the number of cases has soared to record levels.The Swiss government may move to remove the obligation to work from home and reduce or remove periods of quarantine for people in contact with infected people.And with an eye toward eventually eliminating the need to prove vaccination or recovery patient passes to enter restaurants.In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government will meet in the coming days to discuss how to ease restrictions amid a slow but steady decline in daily cases.Sources said the government would focus on simplifying quarantine rules for schools and children, who currently face up to 10 days in isolation if they test positive.A cabinet meeting in Rome later should reduce the quarantine period for vaccinated children to five days, said the people, who asked not to be identified ahead of the decision.The Lithuanian Government plans to relax novel Coronavirus restrictions and will completely abolish the requirement to show proof of vaccination in public places, such as restaurants and sporting events.The Baltic state will also no longer require unvaccinated workers to undergo mandatory weekly testing.France’s looser rules, which went into effect on Wednesday, end mandatory work-from-home rules, eliminate the requirement for outdoor face masks and remove attendance limits for stadiums and theaters;In Norway, restrictions on guests at private parties, restrictions on alcohol service in bars and restaurants and testing on arrival at the border have all been lifted as the country bets that high vaccination rates will be enough to protect the health system from overloading.Along with Germany, Belgium remains an exception, with much of the country in the so-called red zone, which includes mandatory work-at-home rules and restrictions on restaurants and bars.Belgian media have predicted that hospitalisation rates could fall enough to allow the easing later this month.Austria, for its part, will continue its policy of fining people who do not want to be vaccinated, although restrictions on their access to shops, hotels and restaurants will be phased out in February.(Ouyang Hong)