UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron cases China outbreak warning

UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron cases China outbreak warning. China could face ‘colossal’ outbreak if restrictions eased. China could face more than 630,000 Covid-19 infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance policies by lifting travel curbs, according to a study by Peking University mathematicians, Reuters reports.

In the report by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the mathematicians said China could not afford to lift travel restrictions without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatments.

Using data for August from the United States, Britain, Spain, France and Israel, the mathematicians assessed the potential results if China adopted the same pandemic control tactics as those countries.

China’s daily new cases would reach at least 637,155 if it adopted the United States’ pandemic strategy, the report said.

And daily cases would hit 275,793 if China took the same approach as Britain and 454,198 if it imitated France, it said.

“The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly induce an unaffordable burden on the medical system,” the report said.

“Our findings have raised a clear warning that, for the time being, we are not ready to embrace ‘open-up’ strategies resting solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination advocated by certain western countries.”

Germany has reported another 44,401 Covid cases, tasking its total to 5,761,696. There were also another 104 deaths from Covid in the past 24 hours, meaning that 100,883 people have died from the disease.

The health ministry in the German state of Bavaria announced on Saturday two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

The two people entered Germany at Munich airport on 24 November, before Germany designated South Africa as a virus-variant area, and were now isolating, said the ministry, indicating without stating explicitly that the people had travelled from South Africa.

Financial markets face turbulent week

World stock markets plunged on Friday as news emerged of the Omicron variant – and futures trading suggests more steep falls when trading resumes on Monday.

Wall Street’s Dow Jones industrial average is on course to shed around 2.5% on Monday and the broader S&P500 is tracking for losses of 2.2%. Other major indices are heading the same way with the FTSE100 expected to drop 3.8%, the Hang Seng seen losing 1.2%%, and the Nikkei to drop more than 3%.

However, there’s a lot that could happen in the meantime. If evidence emerges that the new variant is not as dangerous as previous ones, markets could rebound very sharply so the futures indices will be closely watched for the next 24 hours in the build up to the next session opening in Asia Pacific.

Worth quoting comments by Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association and a practising GP based in Pretoria, who said it was “premature” to make predictions of a health crisis.

“It’s all speculation at this stage. It may be it’s highly transmissible, but so far the cases we are seeing are extremely mild,” she said”

Australian states and territories are braced for the spread of Omicron, with authorities conceding on Sunday that positive cases were inevitable.

Both the NSW and Victorian governments have introduced 72-hour isolation requirements for all fully vaccinated international arrivals, regardless of where they have arrived from.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said the new variant may “already be here” and that little is known about it.

“What we do know is that it’s going to be hard to ascertain just how many people are here who have been in those African nations.

Israel bans all foreigners from midnight on Sunday

Israel is banning the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in response to the Omicron variant. It also said it would use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.

Naftali Bennett, the prime minister, said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.

Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” interior minister Ayelet Shaked told N12’s “Meet the Press,” “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

A hospital in the northern Czech city of Liberec has confirmed a case of the Omicron strain in a female patient, a spokesman told Czech Television on Saturday.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babis said earlier Saturday that the woman had been in Namibia and flew back to the Czech Republic via South Africa and Dubai. Babis said the woman was vaccinated and had mild symptoms of the disease.

“Given where the patient came from and all the circumstances, we can confirm the strain has been confirmed,” the spokesman added.

The Czech Republic is currently grappling with a spike in Covid-19 infections making it one of the worst-hit countries in the world in terms of infections per capita.

The Morrison government will introduce legislation this week to crack down on abuse and bullying on social media platforms.

Under the laws, social media platforms will be forced to expose the identity of individuals who post defamatory or damaging material anonymously.

“The online world provides many great opportunities but it comes with some real risks and we must address these, or it will continue to have a very harmful and corrosive impact on our society, on our community,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

The government is seeking a complaints mechanism where if somebody thinks that they are being defamed, bullied or attacked on social media that they will have an opportunity to require the platform to take it down.

If the platform fails to comply, there will be a court process that would allow that person to require the platform to provide details of the identity of the abusive or defaming identity.

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