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As Omicron sweeps Europe, Germany plans for the worst

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Germany is preparing for the worst as a second COVID Christmas approaches, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz calling on the country’s essential services to dust off their disaster plans in case staff are hit by the Omicron variant.

The highly infectious viral strain, discovered in southern Africa just a month ago, is already dominant in England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany’s northern neighbor Denmark. Its takeover of other European countries is a matter of days or weeks away, according to infectious disease experts.

“Before Christmas, I would have liked to break better news to you,” a somber Scholz told reporters after agreeing with state governors on Tuesday to impose a series of restrictions on social contacts over the New Year holidays to slow down Omicron.

“Even those who have been vaccinated twice and those who have recovered [from COVID-19]run a high risk of contracting this variant,” Scholz warned, urging people in Germany to get boosted.

Case numbers of the newest coronavirus variant have been doubling every couple of days in the countries hardest hit, with each person who catches it likely to infect three to five others. And, although Omicron has been observed in South Africa to cause less severe illness than earlier strains such as Delta, Scholz’s team of advisers has warned that hospitals and other essential services could still be put at risk if large numbers of staff are sidelined by illness.

“That’s why we are calling on all our critical infrastructure organizations — above all the fire brigade, police, rescue services and hospitals — to activate their pandemic plans so that they can keep their core services running,” said Scholz. Continue Reading

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