Germany Places UK High Risk COVID List As Omicron Hunts Europe | Coronavirus pandemic News

The German health authority has announced that the UK has been added to its list of countries at high risk of COVID, which will lead to tighter travel restrictions, as Europe tries to curb the growing number of infections linked to the highly mutated Omicron strain.

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the Omicron variant could be dominant in Europe by mid-January.

Many countries reimpose travel restrictions and other measures weeks after the variant was first detected in South Africa.

Germany’s move on Saturday night is a response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which forced London Mayor Sadiq Khan to declare a “major incident” in the British capital on Saturday.

The change takes effect Sunday at midnight.

More than 65,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in London in the past seven days, with 26,418 cases reported in the past 24 hours – the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

Here are the latest updates for Sunday:

Omicron less effective at attacking lungs than other variants: study

British research has found that Omicron may be less effective at attacking the lungs than previous variants of COVID-19.

The Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease study concluded that mutations in the spike protein of the virus, which makes it able to avoid antibodies, could also reduce the way it replicates in the lungs and cause a serious illness.

“These observations demonstrate that Omicron has acquired immune evasion properties while compromising properties associated with replication and pathogenicity,” the study summary states.

Study leader Ravi Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge, said there were still challenges to overcome despite the apparently positive results.

He tweeted: “What does all this mean? Efficient infection of lung cells may be correlated with the severity of lung disease. Syncitia or fused cells are often seen in respiratory tissue collected after severe illness. Delta was very good in both cases, unlike Omicron. Further work is needed.

Biden to deliver speech on Omicron variant on Tuesday amid COVID surge

US President Joe Biden will deliver a speech on the Omicron variant of the coronavirus on Tuesday, NBC News reported on Saturday, citing a White House official.

Biden is expected to go beyond his “winter plan” with additional measures to help communities in need, according to the report.

Previously, Vice President Kamala Harris admitted that the government “did not see Omicron coming”.

“And that’s the nature of what this horrible virus has been, which ultimately has mutations and variants,” she said.

Australia says it is well prepared for mounting COVID-19 cases

Australian authorities said on Sunday that there was no need to quell Christmas festivities even as new COVID-19 infections increased in Sydney, with the country’s high vaccination rate helping to prevent people from going to the hospital.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was convinced Australia would not need to follow the Netherlands, which reimposed a strict lockdown over the Christmas and New Years period to curb the spread of the highly contagious variant of Omicron.

“We are entering summer, we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and a very different set of circumstances. So we don’t think that’s a likely situation in Australia, ”Hunt told reporters at a televised press conference.

“We are well prepared and people largely continue… to do an incredible job,” said Hunt, referring to the more than 90% of Australians over 16 who have been fully vaccinated.

Dutch move to Christmas ‘lockdown’ to stop Omicron

The Netherlands will go into “lockdown” over the Christmas period in an attempt to stop a wave of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced.

All non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theaters are to close Sunday through January 14, while schools are to close until at least January 9, Rutte said on Saturday.

People are now only allowed two guests at the house, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, December 26, and the New Years period when four guests are allowed.

“I’m here tonight in a bad mood,” Rutte said at a televised press conference.

“To sum up in one sentence, the Netherlands will be stranded again from tomorrow.

“It’s inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we had feared. We must now intervene as a precaution.

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