- COVID-19 cases are on a surge once again as the virus continues to emerge in new forms due to mutations.
- Omicron variant has spread and been detected in 89 countries globally.
- Till date, the United States report the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
- Lockdown and travel bans have been imposed in many countries.
COVID-19 cases are on a surge once again as the virus continues to emerge in new forms due to mutations. The pandemic has already caused a devastating effect on the world demographics and now, new variants are adding to the challenges in its diagnosis and vaccine development.
The widespread of the new variant Omicron and its increasing number of cases across the globe must not become a reason to trigger another significant wave of COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid any major loss, it is only apt to stay cautious and curb the spread in time.
Global count of COVID-19 cases
So far, there have been 275,233,892 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, including 5,364,996 deaths. As of 19 December 2021, highest number of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases has been reported in United States (130,498.71), followed by United Kingdom (77,601.71) and France (52,455.00).
The number of daily Omicron cases around the globe is increasing rapidly. Globally, as of 20 December 2021, there have been 273,900,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,351,812 deaths, reported to World Health Organization (WHO). As of 19 December 2021, a total of 8,387,658,165 vaccine doses have been administered.
According to WHO, coronavirus’s Omicron variant has spread and been detected in 89 countries. The number of Omicron cases are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in regions where it is transmitted through the community, not merely from abroad. It's unclear if the quick increase in Omicron cases is due to the variant's ability to bypass existing immunity, the fact that it's fundamentally more transmissible than earlier variants, or a mix of the two.
According to the UN health agency, “Omicron's "substantial growth advantage" over the Delta variant means it is likely to soon overtake Delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally”.
Origin of Omicron Variant
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The WHO identified B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (VOC) on 26 November 2021. It was given the name Omicron and was first detected in South Africa.
According to the WHO, Omicron has a considerable number of mutations, including more than 30 spike protein genetic alterations. Some of the currently licenced COVID-19 vaccines target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, hence alterations in the spike protein must be continuously watched.
With the surge of COVID-19 cases and spread of Omicron variant, government of different countries are getting prepared for administering the third dose and booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The booster dose is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer, whereas the third dose is meant for persons with weak immune system.
Reality check: Can current COVID-19 vaccines fight Omicron?
Rules and restrictions imposed by different governments
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Globally, different countries are coming up with their own ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the festive season. Restrictions on travel and gatherings are a significant part of them.
For Australia, within three days of arrival all visitors must have a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test (nose and throat) and must fill out Australian traveler declaration forms. The form states their vaccination status as well as a confirmation of their awareness about the state and regional public health requirements.
The Netherlands went into lockdown recently, and it will be lasting until January 14, 2022.
Entry into Sweden from all EU/EAA and Nordic countries have new requirements from December 21, 2021. Either of the following certificates must be provided by travelers: EU digital COVID certificate, vaccination certificate against COVID-19, negative test report prior to 72 hours of arrival or recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months.
Israel has added 58 countries to its list of “red countries”, with travel restrictions to those countries.
France has tightened travel restrictions between the United Kingdom and France, demanding compelling reasons for such travel.
The German government is mulling new limitations on social gatherings that will take effect on December 28. Limiting meetings to no more than 10 people, excluding youngsters, and closing indoor clubs and discos could be among the measures.
WHO sends surge team to South Africa
In the wake of a spike in coronavirus reinfections, WHO announced it was deploying a technical surge team at South Africa's Gauteng province to monitor Omicron and assist with contract tracking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing African government to sequence between 75 and 150 samples weekly to speed up investigations and boost response to the novel variant.
Emerging from South Africa, the Omicron has made its way and heading towards other countries of the world. It is still not too late to take up prevention measures and act cautiously to save lives and wealth from a huge loss.
Also read: Five Key things from COVID-19 Guidelines