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VARIANT SPREADS GLOBAL GLOOM OVER NEW YEAR

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‘Ready to confront spread of omicron’

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 27, (Agencies): The head of the Government Communications Center and government spokesman, Tariq Al-Muzram, affirmed Sunday the keenness of the concerned government agencies to follow up on the latest developments of the new mutant “omicron” and to prepare to confront its rapid spread, reports Al-Jarida daily. Al-Muzaram told KUNA, after the meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Corona Emergencies at Bayan Palace, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Al-Jaber, that the concerned government agencies always stand ready to confront any developments that may arise in confronting the Corona virus. He called on citizens and residents to receive the third booster dose of the approved vaccine for the virus, stressing the need to adhere to health requirements, especially while attending social events. He stressed on the importance of the continued cooperation of all “as we are accustomed to them previously” in implementing health requirements, especially wearing masks in closed places, in a way that embodies teamwork in order to maintain the stability of the health situation in Kuwait.

Revealed
Meanwhile, vaccination centers witnessed a heavy turnout of citizens and residents to receive the third booster dose of the anti-Covid-19 vaccine. Informed health sources revealed that the number of those receiving the booster dose approached 40,000 in one day alone, which is a record number for those receiving the booster dose, adding that the Kuwait Vaccination Center in the exhibition grounds in the Mishref area provided about 25,000 doses, while the doses provided in the 36 health centers designated for vaccination against “Corona” in different regions, as well as mobile field campaigns that provide immunization service to expatriate workers, was about 15,000 doses.

The sources attributed this turnout to two main factors, namely, the vaccine recipients’ strengthening of their immunity against the “Corona” mutant and taking the stimulating dose after it became a condition for travel, a measure coinciding with the mid-year school holiday and the holiday and travel season. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Health raised the degree of preparedness in all its facilities in anticipation of any increase in injuries due to the mutant “Omicron”, confirming its readiness to confront any rise in cases during the coming period, and that the approved protocols are still in place to confront any emergency. The Farwaniya Health District Director, Dr. Muhammad Al-Rashidi said that Farwaniya Hospital has prepared a plan to confront any increase in infections, which consists in isolating all “Covid-19” patients from respiratory ailment patients. Kuwait’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday that Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Causeway drive-through vaccination center started providing booster shots against coronavirus as of Monday. The service will continue on a daily basis from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. (local time) except for Saturdays, the Ministry’s Spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad said in a news conference.

Gloom
After struggling with the coronavirus for far too long, the world understands all too well Belgium’s word of the year, “knaldrang!” – the urge to party, the need to let loose. Yet as New Year celebrations approach, the Omicron variant is casting more gloom. Dire warnings abound, caseloads are rising alarmingly fast, air traffic is snarled and several countries are considering more restrictions to add to the patchwork of lockdowns and other measures already in place around Europe. The top U.S. infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned on Monday that with the rise of the highly contagious Omicron, “it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” “We don’t expect things are going to turn around in a few days to a week. It likely will take much longer than that, but that’s unpredictable,” he said on ABC. New York City’s sweeping mandate requiring nearly all businesses, from multinational corporations to corner grocery stores, to ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace took effect Monday amid a spike in infections. In Denmark, infection numbers have gone up drastically in the past few days and set a one-day record of over 16,000 in the nation of 5.8 million.

Travelers around the world faced flight cancellations and delays because of staffing shortages linked to COVID- 19. FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, counted more than 2,400 cancellations worldwide by Monday afternoon – 884 of them within, into or out of the U.S. It is the unpredictability of the virus that is keeping governments second-guessing and picking widely varying strategies to beat back the pandemic. The French government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were assessing the latest data and the need to counter the record numbers of COVID-19 infections with more measures to keep people apart at a time when they so dearly want to be together.

But with indications that Omicron might be a milder variant despite its extraordinary ability to infect people, politicians were caught in a bind over whether to spoil yet another party or play it safe to make sure health care systems don’t collapse. France has recorded more than 100,000 infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic, and COVID- 19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month. President Emmanuel Macron’s government scheduled emergency meetings Monday to discuss its next steps. It is hoping that stepped-up vaccinations will be enough. The government is pushing a draft law that would require people to be vaccinated to enter all restaurants and many public venues, instead of the current health pass system that allows individuals to produce a negative test or proof of recovery if they are not vaccinated.

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