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Peak Omicron? Experts are Wary of Calling Time on Variant Wave in Europe

(Reuters) (Reuters) – A rise in cases of coronavirus triggered by the Omicron variant may have reached its peak in some parts of Europe but medics say the impact will be felt across the entire region, with hospitals still in danger of having to deal with an increase in admissions.

Health experts and politicians warn against insanity. They say it’s not certain if their statistics reflect the full effect of the Christmas and New Year holidays when families gathered long hours indoors and the potential for intergenerational transmission of the virus.

Additionally, even though vaccination and the lesser severity of the Omicron variant mean that hospitalisations are lower than in previous COVID-19 outbreaks, Europe still accounts for around half of all deaths and cases worldwide.

There are increasing indications that the escalating rate of infections caused by the Omicron variant, first discovered in southern Africa and Hong Kong, is levelling off or even falling in some areas.

The average number of cases in Britain’s seven days has decreased by 30,000 from the peak. Spain’s prime minister has stated that the numbers of infections are stabilising and an French public health institute has stated that the wave will peak in the middle of January.

“We have a variety of areas where the peak is in the process of being reached or has already been reached. It may be a bit earlier than we anticipated however, remember that the region is extremely diverse,” Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Europe director told reporters this week.

“So we must keep in mind the eastern region, the Central Asian republics where this peak is still to come.”

Health officials in Sweden and Switzerland have stated that the peak in these two countries is expected to be reached by the end of this month.

“We could reach the peak in the next two weeks if contacts between people remain at the same level. It could take longer when people are more cautious,” Tanja Stadler of Switzerland’s COVID-19 science taskforce, told reporters Tuesday.

The trend is similar to the Omicron wave in Africa which the WHO’s Africa office reported was plateauing, which makes it the shortest increase in cases to date.

Denmark, where Omicron is the dominant strain, has relaxed some restrictions this week. The health minister announced that the epidemic was now under control.

The British Office of National Statistics has said the growth of infections has decreased in England. One fifteen people were diagnosed with the infection during the week that ended Jan. 6, the same as the previous week.


Despite encouraging signs that are encouraging, politicians remain cautious.

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that although the number of hospitalisations is slowing, the pressure on the health system is not likely to decrease in the next few weeks.

“Omicron’s more widespread transmission has the potential to lead to significant numbers of people being in hospitals,” he said.

He said there were encouraging indications of a decline in infections in London and in the east of England but “we’re still currently seeing an increase in infections in other parts of the country and the data does not yet reflect the impact of returning to work and school” after Christmas and New Year.

Scotland, which had introduced more strict Omicron restrictions than England and will lift those restrictions on Monday.

However, indicating that the stabilisation in case numbers is not being observed everywhere Italy’s National Health Institute said on Friday that the weekly rate of incident and hospital bed occupancy continued to increase this week.

Christian Drosten, a German virologist, warned Friday that there were too many Omicron cases. This reduced any gains from the milder variants. Germany’s health minister suggested that further coronavirus restrictions may be necessary in the event that hospitals are overwhelmed.

Omicron spread quickly among younger individuals initially and epidemiologists believe that its impact on admissions to hospitals can be unpredictable as it moves into older ages groups.

The ZOE COVID symptoms study app, which collects data from people to determine the prevalence of COVID in Britain and discovered that the Omicron wave had peaked and that elderly cases have stabilized at a lower level.

“Just like it went up extremely quickly, it also came down quickly and I believe that it is good news and will be easing pressures on hospitals,” Tim Spector (lead scientist on the app) spoke to Reuters.

But the Omicron variant will not disappear He said.

“It’s just so infectious, there’s really no way to say it’s going to go down to trivial levels however it can be controlled,” he said.

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