At a time when Omicron is besieging most countries in Europe, there are states that decide to declare an end to the pandemic and lift the restrictive measures. The most typical example is that of Denmark, which announced its return to the pre-Corona era and the corona virus as a non-threatening disease to society. In this context, despite the increase in cases, he removed the restrictions that include the use of a mask.
Countries saying goodbye to restrictions
The rationale behind the decision is the assessment that Omicron's hospitalizations are reduced, the number of deaths is reduced and the vaccination rate is adequate. As of February 1, all restrictions currently in force at the national level, such as a health pass, the use of a mask or the premature closure of bars and restaurants, will be lifted.
In the footsteps of Denmark and Britain, which despite the great burden on the health system leaves behind the restrictive measures as there is a reduction in cases compared to ten days ago. Among them is the restriction of mask use in specific structures.
The Netherlands, however, which had imposed a general lockdown even before the appearance of Omicron, seems to have managed to improve its epidemiological picture as the number of hospitalizations and deaths is steadily declining despite the increase in infections. The Dutch can now enjoy bars, restaurants and museums, and the government plans to abolish all remaining measures by 1 February.
Doubts about the relaxation of measures
Despite its contagious nature, the less dangerous nature of the Omicron's strain raises hopes that in the future humanity will be able to coexist with its new roommate. However, experts warn that the announcement of the end of the pandemic is premature. Aside from the important issue that it is extremely likely that a new variant will emerge as long as vaccinations do not progress globally, the current picture of European countries leaves no room for complacency, as Omicron is less serious but does not mean that transmissibility can not put pressure on health systems.
At the same time, since the dispersal of the Delta variant, the WHO has been warning countries to be careful in lifting measures, in particular the abolition of the use of a mask, which has become an important weapon along with measures of social distancing against the pandemic and does not work against vaccines, but needs to be used as a booster.
Moreover, the appearance of the Omircon variant has signaled an alarm for the use of the mask in many countries. Greece is one of those that have not only imposed a general use of a mask but the mask of increased protection is mandatory in specific areas in order to break the transmission of the contagious Omicron.
The WHO statement on the course of the pandemic is typical
“This pandemic, like all other pandemics before it, will end, but it is too early to relax. With millions of infections occurring worldwide in recent weeks and weeks, combined with weakened immune systems and winter seasonality, it is almost certain that new variants of COVID-19 will appear and return.
But with strong surveillance and monitoring of new variants, high intake of vaccines and third doses, ventilation, affordable and equal access to antiviral drugs, targeted testing and shielding of high-risk groups with high-quality masks and social distancing, if and when a new paradigm occurs , I believe that a new wave could no longer demand a return to exclusions or similar measures at the level of the pandemic population.