In Europe, there have been a record Covid cases. There were some record Covid-19 infections across Europe as governments thought about how to keep the virus from spreading when workers and kids go back to school in the new year.
There were no fireworks shows or large public gatherings on New Year’s Eve across the continent because early data suggested that the Omicron variant of the virus was less dangerous than its predecessors. During the holidays, people spend more time with each other, so hospitals are expecting a lot of people to come in. The strain is very easily spread.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in his New Year’s Eve speech that the coming weeks will be hard. The country had more than 232,000 new coronavirus infections, a record for a pandemic.
He said he hoped that France would be able to avoid the stricter rules that have been put in place in other parts of Europe because of high vaccination rates.
Many cities, including Paris, did not have fireworks displays. Bars and restaurants were still open. As more people go to the hospital, the number of people going to intensive care units stays about the same each week. “I want to believe, with you, that 2022 could be the year we say goodbye to this epidemic,” Mr. Macron told the crowd.
The cautious optimism was based on signs from South Africa, where Omicron was first found in November, that the variant has now reached its peak. The disease caused by Omicron is less severe than that caused by Delta, which was the most common strain until recently. This is based on data from the United Kingdom.
Warning: Scientists say the variant might not be as harmful in Europe as it might be in South Africa, which has a young population and has had a lot of infections in the past. It’s also summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and the virus spreads more easily in the winter, when people stay inside and spread it around.
While some countries north of the Alps like Germany and the Netherlands have seen a slowdown in the spread of the new strain, Italy and Spain have seen their highest daily infections of the pandemic. They thought that high vaccination rates and mild winter weather would help keep the new strain at bay.
On Friday, the number of confirmed new Covid-19 infections in Italy reached a record high of more than 144,000. As the year came to an end in Spain, there were more than 100,000 confirmed COVID Cases a day. COVID Cases in Portugal and Greece have been rising quickly, and it’s getting worse.
Italian hospital admissions have been rising, but as in other European countries, the strain on healthcare systems is still much less than it was a year ago, which shows that mass vaccinations are still working.
Even so, the U.K., which has led one of the fastest “boost” campaigns, is setting up temporary units in hospitals in case there are a lot of patients after Christmas and New Year’s.
At the same time, European authorities are getting ready for the start of school this month. Most governments are looking for ways to keep students in class even though there has been a big rise in infections.
Experts and parents have criticised authorities in Germany and the next-door country of Austria for closing schools during the early stages of the virus.
This month, British schools will be open as usual. The British government says that keeping kids in school is important, and this month, schools will open as usual. Pupils in English secondary school will have to take a test when they come back and then test themselves twice a week. Ex-teachers are being asked to work in schools that have been hit hard by sicknesses from their staff.
Following these steps, schools are being told to plan for the worst.
In a letter recently, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi asked schools to look over their contingency plans to make sure they were ready to use them in the event of any future changes to them. Some schoolchildren took laptops home at the start of the summer break in case their schools were closed when they came back and they had to go to school from home again.
Schools in France are set to start back up on Monday after the holiday break, but trips to indoor places like theatres are going to be pushed back. In the event that a teacher is absent and can’t be replaced, kids will have to stay home and not go to other classes.
There are a lot of people in the French Parliament talking about a new emergency law that will make France’s health card into a vaccine card. This means that people who have recently had a negative Covid-19 test won’t be able to go to places like restaurants or movie theatres, long-distance transportation, and some big shopping centres.
Italy’s government is going to decide soon whether to make it more difficult for people to get into places like offices, stores, and factories if they haven’t been vaccinated or if they’ve been cured of Covid-19. A negative test has worked up until now.
A lot like what happened in Germany and Austria, where social-distancing rules have been tightened for people who haven’t been vaccinated, this is how the United States is going to deal with the spread of Covid-19. Politicians in Italy aren’t happy with the idea, though. They don’t want to push people too far toward having to be vaccinated.
Other than that, the number of new infections in Saudi Arabia has increased 34-fold in the last month. On Friday, 819 COVID Cases were reported, which is the highest level since the summer.
In Saudi Arabia, people must wear masks in public places and at outdoor events, even though there is a week-long festival going on in the capital city, Riyadh. This isn’t all: They’ve also restored social-distancing rules at the Grand Mosques in Mecca and Medina, which are visited by millions of Muslims each year.