Omicron forces several states to adjust their Covid rules

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Because the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly, the affected countries are reacting with new measures. England reintroduces the mask obligation for older pupils, the United Arab Emirates forbids unvaccinated people to travel. Meanwhile, France decides to relax quarantine rules out of concern for maintaining daily life.

Despite a recent record of more than 200,000 new Corona infections per day, France is shortening its quarantine periods. In the event of an infection, those who have been fully vaccinated will only have to remain in quarantine for seven days from Monday. This was announced by Health Minister Olivier Véran in the Sunday newspaper “Le Journal du Dimanche”.

The quarantine can be shortened to five days with a negative rapid test or PCR test. For those not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated, the quarantine remains ten days, which can be shortened to seven days with a negative test. Contacts who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated will continue to be quarantined for seven days.

Vaccinated contact persons are spared quarantine
Fully vaccinated contacts, on the other hand, will no longer have to be quarantined starting Monday, provided they test themselves every other day for six days. The relaxation of the rules is intended to prevent a destabilization of social and economic life, Véran stressed. After all, if all of France were in quarantine, the country would come to a standstill.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach also announced a revision of the Corona quarantine rules for Germany. “We are indeed thinking about shortened quarantine and isolation times,” the SPD politician said Sunday evening on ARD television. With the high case numbers of new infections that the model calculations for the spread of Omicron showed, other quarantine durations are needed, he said.

Hacker wants shortening also in Austria
In Austria, too, a relaxation of quarantine rules is being discussed in light of the more contagious Omicron variant. With thousands of new infections expected daily, the number of workers on sick leave and in quarantine would become a problem. Vienna’s city health councillor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) therefore spoke out in favor of shortening the isolation period. According to the Director General of Public Health, Katharina Reich, the Ministry of Health is already considering a relaxation.

Currently, in Austria, one must be in quarantine for ten days after contact with an Omicron-infected person; after five days, free testing is possible. However, vaccinated and recovered persons are also considered K1 persons, i.e. they have to be isolated. This was not the case with the previous Corona variants.

Mask-wearing from the seventh grade
In England, due to the rapid spread of the corona variant omicron in the classroom, older students should now start wearing masks again. The provisional recommendation applies from the seventh grade, i.e. from around the age of twelve, as the British government announced on Sunday a few days before the end of the vacations. This is to ensure that as many young people as possible can attend school for as long as possible.

In England, more than 160,000 new cases of corona were recently reported. In the rest of the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, masks have long been recommended in classrooms. Health policy is a matter for regional governments in the United Kingdom.

Unvaccinated not allowed to leave emirates
The United Arab Emirates imposed a travel ban on all citizens who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. As of January 10, the unvaccinated will no longer be allowed to leave the country, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday. With few exceptions, those already vaccinated must also receive a booster vaccination before traveling abroad.

The Emirates have vaccinated their population against the coronavirus more quickly than almost any other country. At the end of November, the government had already announced that all residents had been vaccinated at least once. More than 90 percent have been vaccinated twice. About one-third of the population has received booster vaccination.

Concern about accuracy of rapid tests
Internationally, concern is being expressed that current rapid tests may be less accurate in detecting the new omicron variant. However, most of the rapid corona tests offered in Germany are also suitable for detecting the omicron variant, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI). The vast majority of the tests are able to detect a protein of the virus that is comparatively little affected by the Omikron mutations. However, further testing is needed for a “definitive, qualitative and quantitative conclusion,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had previously said that preliminary data from a study of live viruses from patients indicated “that antigen tests detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity.”

  • source: diepresse.at/picture: pixabay.com
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