With positive COVID-19 Omicron variant cases increasing across the world, several countries decided to enter lockdowns and apply restrictive measures during the December holidays. While the US government called for concern instead of panic, Mexico is preparing to celebrate Christmas with no restrictive measures.
Despite COVID-19 vaccines and other available tools, WHO still urged people to cancel holiday plans. "An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled," warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO. In the US, Omicron variant is now dominant, accounting for 73 percent of new infections. However, “this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” said President Joe Biden, who added that the best way to fight Omicron is “with scientific and knowledgeable actions, not chaos and confusion.”
In the EU, the situation has been different. The Netherlands went into lockdown on Sunday, which will last until Jan. 14, 2022. The government urged “everyone to stay at home as much as possible,” and restricted the number of visitors a household can receive, limiting outdoors groups to two people. Sweden announced travel restrictions starting Dec. 21, 2021, for its neighbors Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, requiring a vaccine certificate for travelers from these countries, reported The Local. France, the UK and Germany also imposed tighter restrictions.
The Omicron variant was confirmed to have entered Mexico through a 51-year-old man traveling from South Africa in the first days of December, reported MBN. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the patient was admitted to a private hospital in Mexico City but was reportedly out of danger after showing only mild symptoms.
In Mexico, Christmas will be celebrated without restrictions and vaccination campaigns remain the priority. “The 23 people who tested positive for the Omicron variant had mild symptoms and have not been hospitalized. However, we must continue vaccinating since 70 percent of those infected were not vaccinated. Right now, the COVID-19 epidemic in Mexico and many other countries is predominantly among unvaccinated people,” said on Tuesday Hugo López-Gatell, Deputy Minister of Health.
Mexico approaches Christmas with over 3.93 million COVID-19 positive cases and around 300,000 deaths, the fourth highest figure in the world. However, WHO’s warnings are taken out of context, said López-Gatell: “It is very common for Mexican and global media to take Tedros Ghebreyesus’s press conferences out of context.”
General bed occupation at hospitals stands at 14 percent and intensive care beds at 11 percent, with only 15,000 active COVID-19 cases, said López-Gatell. He added that the Ministry of Health will remain vigilant of possible changes to these trends.