New Zealand is among the few remaining countries that have avoided any outbreak, the Omicron version says – but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday that an outbreak was inevitable and that the nation would tighten restrictions as soon as it was detected. But he also said New Zealand would not enforce the lockdowns already used, including the delta version.
“This phase of the pandemic is different from what we have dealt with before. Omicron is more permeable,” Ardern said. “This will make it harder to keep out, but it will become even more challenging to control once it arrives. But like before, when Covid changes, we change.”
Ardern said that within 24 to 48 hours after Omicron is detected in the community, the nation will move to its “red” setting. It would allow businesses to remain open and continue domestic travel, but would require school children to wear masks and limit crowds to 100 people.
Currently most of New Zealand is in an “orange” setting, which requires the wearing of some masks and proof of vaccination, but does not limit crowd size. About 93 of New Zealanders 12 and older have been fully vaccinated and 37 of 52 have received a booster shot. The country has just started immunizing children between the ages of 5 and 11.
Austrian parliament to vote on universal vaccine mandate
Austria’s parliament was to vote on Thursday to introduce a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for adults for the first time in Europe. It will apply to all residents aged 18 and over, with exemptions for pregnant women, individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and people who have recovered from coronavirus in the past six months.
Germany expects peak in mid-February
Germany’s health minister expects coronavirus infections in the country to continue to rise for several weeks before peaking next month. Karl Lauterbach said late Wednesday that “the wave will reach its peak in mid-February.”
Number of new cases reported globally in the last 24 hours
Total number of cases worldwide
total number of deaths worldwide
Source: WHO/Johns Hopkins
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