Omicron looms large in Britain: Cases surge in 24 hours, London rings the alarm
The Omicron variant of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus is spreading at a remarkable pace in the United Kingdom (UK). According to British government data, a marked surge in cases was reported in a span of mere 24 hours. Moreover, London's mayor Sadiq Khan has also declared a “major incident” to help the city's hospitals cope with the Omicron surge.
The UK health security agency (UKHSA) said that the number of Omicron cases recorded across Britain hit almost 25,000 by Friday evening, an increase of more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier.
To make matters worse, as many as seven people, who were believed to have been infected with the Omicron variant, died as of Thursday, up from the one death in the UKHSA's previous data which ran up to Tuesday. Hospitalisation numbers also increased during this span – admissions of people thought to have been infected with Omicron increased to 85 from 65.
However, the real number of Omicron cases eludes government data, authorities acknowledged. Hundreds of thousands of people were “almost certainly” being infected with the variant every day and were not being picked up in the figures, the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said.
If the current trend for the Omicron surge continues in England, a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day is to be expected, SAGE said, advising a further tightening of coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-necessitated rules. Notably, daily hospitalisations in the UK had surged above 4,000 last January, before the nationwide vaccination programme gathered steam and brought the numbers down.
London declares ‘major emergency’ over Omicron
Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” over Omicron to allow for closer coordination between public agencies and possibly more central government support, as Covid-19 hospital admissions in the city rose by nearly 30 per cent this week.
London has now logged the highest number of new Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic – over 26,000.
“I've taken the decision, in consultation with our partners, to declare a major incident today,” Khan, the city's mayor, said in a Sky News broadcast.
Germany puts UK on list of high-risk countries
Germany's health authority announced late Saturday that Britain had been added to its list of Covid high-risk countries, which will mean tighter travel restrictions.
“The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are very strongly affected by Covid-19. A new variant, very contagious, has also been found,” the Germany Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website.
The change, which takes effect at the end of the day Sunday at midnight, means arrivals from Britain will have to observe a two-week quarantine regardless of whether they are vaccinated, said the country's health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
In addition to the quarantine measure, only German nationals or foreigners residing in Germany will be allowed to come to the country from Britain. The rule applies to all means of transport and a PCR test will be required for all persons travelling to Germany.
(With inputs from agencies)
Tourists coming to Sri Lanka can even take part in protest, PM's reply goes viral In an interview with Sky News, Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said tourists who are looking for an exciting time can visit Sri Lanka as there are several options now in the strife-torn island country.
Protests bubbling in big cities, dismal economic indicators and rampant discontent online - China's zero-Covid policy is morphing from a propaganda victory to a political liability for President Xi Jinping. While much of the Western world suffered huge outbreaks, China's "dynamic zero-Covid" approach was upheld as an emblem oXi's shrewd leadership and celebrated during the ruling Communist Party's centenary last year.
President Joe Biden is devoting his Saturday to cementing ties with South Korea and its new leader Yoon Suk Yeol as the two sides consult on how best to check the nuclear threat from North Korea at a time when there's little hope of real diplomacy on the matter. The division of the Korean peninsula after World War II has led to two radically different nations.
Former President Donald Trump has paid the USD 110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York's attorney general. Trump paid the fine on Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of Attorney General Letitia James said Friday. A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump's lawyer.
In the backdrop of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, QUAD is expected to record a forward momentum to strengthen the grouping at the Tokyo summit on next Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the senior-most member of the QUAD with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida the last new member to join the grouping.