A wake-up call against the relaxation of anti-covid measures
These days there is again some alarm about the increase in covid-19 cases everywhere. At the moment it seems they are still mainly caused by the delta variant, but in many countries we are seeing a rapid increase in cases of the worrying omicron variant. The lack of data means it is premature to make guesses at what may happen, but, from what is happening in other places and our own experience, it is vital we remain very attentive to the evolution of the virus over the next two weeks. A large increase in cases after the Christmas holidays is taken for granted. However, if preliminary reports about omicron are true, it would not be impossible for this increase to occur even earlier.
In any case, this alarm should help us recover basic precautions which many people seem to have forgotten of late. "Hands, mask and space" is a mantra that we should have incorporated into our daily behaviour. Vaccines are effective and have prevented many deaths in recent months, but although the vaccination rate in Catalonia is among the highest in Europe (76%), this protection has not been enough to eliminate the circulation of the virus. This is due to how the virus spreads and mutates among the unvaccinated and because these drugs lose effectiveness over time and do not act as a total barrier to contagion.
The new measures being taken to deal with the new crisis are varied. On the one hand, reinforcing vaccination both with the start of the campaign for children aged 5 to 11 and with the booster dose, which is already being administered to the over-60 and has now also been approved for the over-40 and those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. On the other, the use of covid certification, screening tests and, in some areas, teleworking will be intensified. Some countries have also tightened travel restrictions, such as France or Italy, and some, such as Austria, have returned to lockdown. However, that is not yet the case here. The EU is again calling for coordination, but in fact, each country is again doing what it wants, despite the fact that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned on Wednesday that the rapid spread of the omicron variant is no joke and that social life must be restricted again. It is hard, because Christmas is upon us, but we should be careful. This will not only allow us to take care of our own health and that of others, especially the most vulnerable, but also contribute to avoiding the economic crisis continuing for another year. In fact, the halt in global mobility has led Berlin to suspended its March tourism fair and Fira Barcelona is starting to worry about what might happen to the Mobile World Congress. It will also help basic health to avoid being overrun by covid outbreaks among its staff and will mitigate the impacts on young and not-so-young people's mental health, which has been shown to be suffering badly.