Omicron: The need for a booster dose cannot be emphasised more Image Credit: Gulf News

Countries in Europe have started taking tougher measures to slow the exploding number of new infections driven by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Coming during the peak of the holiday season when thousands of people traditionally travel and businesses do well, reports of increased cases due to the new variant is a cause of concern.

With infections multiplying rapidly across Europe and the United States, doubling every two or three days in cities like London and elsewhere, the scare is taking a toll on financial markets too. There is a likelihood that the global economic recovery might face a few hurdles as we go forward.

Already Germany plans to limit private gatherings from December 28 to a maximum of 10 people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19, according to a draft of proposed steps. Access to restaurants would remain limited to people who could provide proof of vaccination or recovery. Netherlands has opted for stricter travel restrictions too.

France is planning ban on UK arrivals, where the prime minister has come under a huge flak for violating the Covid-19 mandate during the last lockdown. Boris Johnson, however, says that no rules would change for now, as the country prepares to ride out the holiday season.

As more cases are identified across the UK, it’s only a matter of time before the country announces measures to check the virus. There has been opposition from Johnson’s own cabinet to new Covid-19 restrictions, forcing him to shelve decisions on a potential post-Christmas “circuit breaker” until ministers have seen new data.

President Joe Biden is set to give a speech on Omicron as the US braces for holiday surge. He is expected to issue a ‘stark warning of what the winter will look’ for the unvaccinated Americans.

In the UAE, the authorities have ensured that vaccines are readily available. With the economy on an upswing, we all have a shared responsibility to stay alert and keep our guard up.

At this point most experts are of the view that the severity of the disease caused by the new variant remains unclear and may even be less severe. However, the high transmissibility rate could be a worrying factor.

Countries need to be cautious just like the second wave of Covid-19. The need for a booster dose cannot be emphasised more. All of us — no matter where we are — must follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to fight this deadly pandemic.