COVID-19 variant concerns

This item appears on page 5 of the February 2022 issue.

Cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant, which, at press time, was believed to be more contagious than any previous variant, increased at a record rate in December, with the numbers of daily new cases in the UK and France each topping 200,000, a record for both countries. Some border restrictions began to be enforced in order to limit international travel from countries with high case rates, though earlier travel bans from Southern African countries were revoked by most countries.

Countries throughout Europe began enforcing very strict, but temporary, lockdowns through Christmas and New Year’s, also instituting post-Christmas rules for travel so that those who were visiting family over the holidays would remain at home upon their return to limit the spread of the disease.

China locked down the city of Xi’an, home to more than 13 million people, on Dec. 22 after 143 COVID-19 infections were identified there. China has one of the strictest COVID policies in the world, as they are attempting to maintain zero infections in the country even as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which start Feb. 4. Infected individuals in China are required to undergo a 5-week quarantine, more than the 10 days recommended in most countries.