French PM: Omicron spreading at breakneck speed

Image credit: Mail Plus

“The Omicron form is developing at a rapid pace throughout Europe,” according to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, “and will likely become dominant in France by the start of next year.”

He spoke barely hours before France imposed tight travel restrictions on British people entering the country on Friday. The UK has been the hardest struck in the region so far, with about 15,000 confirmed Omicron infections as of Friday. Across the continent, health experts are prepared for a flood of diseases.

In an attempt to stem the tide, administrations in Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands announced additional limitations on Friday.

According to the most recent EU statistics, there have been around 89 million instances of COVID and 1.5 million fatalities as a result of it.

However, Germany’s Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, told reporters on Friday that “the country must prepare for a crisis that we have not yet faced in this form,” while the country’s public health agency identified France, Norway, and Denmark as high-risk countries due to increased infection rates. On Saturday, Germany reported around 42,000 new illnesses, down from 50,000 the day before.

The warnings came after the UK set a new record for COVID infections for the third day in a row, with over 93,000 illnesses, largely owing to Omicron.

At 23:00 GMT on Friday, France closed its borders to individuals travelling from the United Kingdom for business or vacation, with massive lines forming at the Port of Dover and Eurostar terminals as passengers rushed to enter before the ban took effect.

Meanwhile, Dutch health experts have urged that the country be placed under strict lockdown, according to local media.

Sports stadiums will be required to run at 50% capacity or have a 5,000-person attendance limit. With a limit of 100 guests, wedding celebrations will be allowed to last until midnight.

On Monday, Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar said the government would announce financial measures to assist businesses affected by the new limitations.

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