Germany accepts new COVID restrictions as Omicron variant spreads across the world


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BERLIN / WASHINGTON – Germany agreed on new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday and the United States has prepared to do the same, while U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Omicron variant shows the pandemic could last “a while”.

The new variant is spreading across the world, with countries like USA, India https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-says-it-detects-two-cases-omicron- variant-2021-12 -02 and France https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-govt-science-adviser-covid-delta-variant-is-main-fight-right-now-looking-2021 -12-02 reporting their first cases and investors were rocked by the prospect that this could hurt the global economic recovery.

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In an interview https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/us-treasurys-yellen-says-ready-retire-transitory-describe-inflation-2021-12-02 with Reuters, Yellen said she hoped that the pandemic did not completely stifle economic activity, adding that the US stimulus at the start of the pandemic had helped fuel a very strong recovery.

The new measures agreed in Germany focus on the unvaccinated, who will be denied access to all but the most essential shops such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Germany is also considering legislating to make vaccination compulsory.

“We have understood that the situation is very serious and that we want to take additional measures in addition to those already taken,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference.

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“In order to do this, the fourth wave must be broken and this has not yet been achieved,” she said, referring to the latest increase in the number of cases in Germany. A nationwide vaccination mandate could come into effect from February 2022 after being debated in the Bundestag and after advice from the German Ethics Council, she said.

Eager to avoid blockages that could derail a fragile recovery in Europe’s largest economy, Germany has kept businesses open to nearly 69% of the population who are fully vaccinated as well as those with proof that they have recovered from COVID-19.

Much remains unknown about Omicron, which was first detected in southern Africa last month and has been spotted in at least two dozen countries, just as parts of Europe were already grappling with a wave of Delta variant infections.

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But the European Union’s public health agency said Omicron could be responsible for more than half of all COVID infections in Europe within months, giving weight to preliminary information about its high transmissibility.

South Africa has said it is seeing an increase in COVID-19 re-infections in patients contracting Omicron – with people who have already been re-infected with the disease – in ways it has not. not seen with other variants.

Global stocks fell on Thursday, reversing gains from the previous session, as lack of information on Omicron left markets volatile, while crude oil futures extended losses.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

In the United States, the Biden administration was expected to announce measures including extending requirements https://www.reuters.com/world/us/exclusive-us-extend-transit-mask-mandate-through-mid-march -sources- 2021-12-01 for travelers to wear masks until mid-March later Thursday.

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Early next week, the United States will require inbound international travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within one day of departure, regardless of their vaccination status.

It will also force private health insurance companies to reimburse customers for COVID-19 home testing, a senior administration official said.

The first known US case https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-reports-first-case-omicron-variant-2021-12-01, announced Wednesday evening, was of a fully vaccinated person in California who had traveled to South Africa. The two French cases, in the Paris region and in eastern France, were passengers arriving from Nigeria and South Africa respectively.

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Russia has imposed a two-week quarantine on travelers from some African countries, including South Africa, the Interfax news agency said, citing a senior official. Hong Kong has extended a travel ban to more countries.

Amid all the new restrictions, Europe’s largest low-cost airline Ryanair has said it expects a tough time this Christmas, although it is still optimistic about summer demand.

In Canada, industry groups have warned that a plan to require COVID-19 testing for all arrivals except the United States on international flights could cause chaos and long lines if people passengers had to be tested at airports.

In the Netherlands, health authorities have requested pre-flight COVID-19 testing for all travel from outside the European Union, after it was found that around 90% of 62 passengers tested positive after arriving on two flights from South Africa on November 21. 26 – including all those with the Omicron variant – had been vaccinated.

(Report by Reuters Offices Written by Ingrid Melander Editing by Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry)

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