While the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against the "toxic" combination of low vaccination rates and Covid-19 screening, the screwdrivers follow one another in the face of the spread of the new Omicron variant, like Germany, which is preparing to tighten restrictions this Thursday.

Berlin must decide on new measures including possible closures of bars and other public places, an approach that is consensus before a vaccination obligation.

"A matter of choice"

Compulsory vaccination is already planned in Austria and other countries are considering it, including South Africa, but resistance is strong. A discussion "must be conducted" on the subject in the EU member states, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference. Because for the moment, underlined in Geneva the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the insufficiency of the vaccine coverage against the Covid-19 and that of the level of screening constitute a “toxic” mixture.

It is "a perfect recipe for variants to reproduce and amplify", he warned, stressing that the end of the pandemic is "a matter of choice".

In South Africa, where the identification of the Omicron variant was announced last week, but where less than a quarter of the inhabitants are vaccinated, the health authorities described in Parliament an "exponential" spread of the virus.

The new variant, clearly very contagious, is already dominant.

The strain on all continents

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, rose up on Wednesday against the “scandal” of a condemnation of Africa for not being sufficiently vaccinated. Faced with the Omicron variant, border closures are "deeply unjust, punitive and ineffective", he said, denouncing a form of "apartheid" with regard to Africa and calling for the development of tests. Faced with the "threat to economic recovery", which Omicron represents, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also said on Wednesday that the priority remained to "ensure that vaccines are produced and distributed as much as possible. quickly possible across the world ”.

The developed countries of the G20 have spent 10,000 billion dollars to protect their economy during the crisis, while vaccinating the planet would only cost 50 billion, lamented Laurence Boone, the chief economist of the OECD.

The new strain has been spotted on all continents, but Europe, already facing a strong rebound in the epidemic before its appearance, seems the most affected: after many other countries, Norway announced its first four cases on Wednesday , all on returnees from South Africa.

Towards quarantine in the United States?

The States of the Old Continent are therefore once again tightening health restrictions: border controls, ban on travel to southern Africa, compulsory mask in transport and shops in the United Kingdom, recommendation to vaccinate vulnerable children in France, etc. Even in Portugal, a model student of Europe for the vaccination rate (85%), the population must again from Wednesday wear the mask in closed places and present a health pass and a new vaccination campaign has started. Denmark, which like other countries in Europe is facing a strong epidemic rebound, has reintroduced a mandatory test for travelers from Doha and Dubai, after a case of the new variant was detected in a returning traveler. from Qatar.

In the United States, which announced Wednesday that it had detected a first case of the variant, stricter test conditions for travelers on arrival, or even the establishment of a quarantine, are under study, according to health officials .

These measures could be officially announced Thursday by US President Joe Biden.

In Asia, Japan, now closed to foreigners, has identified two cases of contamination by Omicron and on Wednesday asked airlines to suspend new reservations to its territory for a month.

South Korea has announced its first five cases and tightened travel restrictions.

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