Omicron dashes Bethlehem’s Christmas hopes
By Abiodun Ogundairo
25 December 2021 | 9:25 am
With Israel having closed its borders to most foreigners, Bethlehem's residents are getting ready for a muted holiday season.
Israel's Health Ministry has recommended removing all the countries currently on an omicron no-fly list. The ministry also said Israelis should not travel to places with higher infection rates "without a good reason."
Across Europe, there are fears the omicron variant will cause case numbers to climb to record highs, increasing pressure on hospitals and other workplaces. In Germany, health officials are warning that the true scale of the crisis is not yet known.
The number of people who have died after being infected by the coronavirus in Britain has topped 150,000. It's the highest death toll in any European nation. As the total of omicron cases in the UK surges ever higher, the health care system is at its limits.
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Authorities in Europe are being very cautious, but it seems the record-breaking infection rate of the Omicron variant could soon be followed by a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases. This scenario still leaves the most vulnerable at risk, such as the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions and the unvaccinated.
The new wave of coronavirus infections in Germany has now surpassed numbers last seen in November. Experts are warning of the threat this poses to the unvaccinated.
A Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is 84% effective in protecting against being hospitalised by the Omicron variant for 1-2 months after it is received, the head of South Africa's Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Glenda Gray, said on Friday.
As Germany battles a fifth coronavirus wave, people took to the street to rail against COVID-19 restrictions and a possible vaccine mandate. Others marched for "solidarity instead of conspiracy theories."
Coronavirus cases have hit global records. Some countries have tightened measures, while others are pushing to relax rules because of the omicron variant's perceived milder infections and high national vaccination rates.
Call it an Olympic-sized gamble. Ahead of Chinese New Year holiday travel and the Winter Games, authorities there are sticking to their zero-Covid policy. As Omicron tears through much of the rest of the world, can the coronavirus really be barred from the Beijing Olympics?
The omicron variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in South Africa, has so far resulted in fewer deaths and hospitalizations than previous waves. Though some experts warn not to take the variant lightly, life has almost returned to normal in cities such as Cape Town, where restaurants and bars are open for the first time since the pandemic began.
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