FRANCE 24 – The WHO warned Tuesday that the Omicron coronavirus variant could lead to overwhelmed healthcare systems even though early studies suggest it sparks milder disease, as countries reintroduced tough restrictions to stamp out Covid-19 surges and France reported a new record number of cases.
Covid-19 surges have wreaked havoc around the world, forcing many nations to make tough choices between economically punishing restrictions and controlling the spread of the virus.
France reported a record high of 179,807 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period on Tuesday, by far the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
The previous record of 104,611 was set on Saturday.
To quell the rising numbers, the country also ordered companies to have employees work from home at least three days a week.
The United States has halved the isolation period for asymptomatic cases to try and limit disruption.
Contact restrictions were in place in Germany for the second year in a row heading into the New Year, as Europe’s biggest economy shuttered nightclubs and forced sports competitions behind closed doors.
Despite facing a much smaller outbreak compared with global virus hotspots, China has not relaxed its “zero Covid” strategy, imposing stay-at-home orders in many parts of the city of Yan’an.
The hundreds of thousands of affected residents there joined the 13 million people in the city of Xi’an, who entered a sixth day of home confinement as China battled its highest daily case numbers in 21 months.
“I’m about to be starved to death,” wrote one Xi’an resident on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
“There’s no food, my housing compound won’t let me out, and I’m about to run out of instant noodles… please help!”
Many Xi’an residents have similarly complained on social media about the restrictions, which include a ban on driving and allowing only one member of a household to go outside for groceries every three days.
This lockdown is the most sweeping in China since the similar-sized city of Wuhan was cut off from the world in the early days of the pandemic … READ MORE.