Senegal, Tunisia register first cases as omicron spreads

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DAKAR, Senegal – Senegal and Tunisia have registered their first cases of the omicron variant.

The Senegalese announcement of the first case was made by the Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training, which is one of the laboratories approved by Senegal for screening for covid-19. Senegal became the third West African country to detect the new variant.

The case was detected on Friday in a 58-year-old man who arrived in Senegal on November 22 by plane from a country in the sub-region, the institute said on Sunday. The man had been vaccinated in April with the AstraZeneca vaccine and in June with Pfizer.

According to the institute, the patient stayed in the capital, Dakar, in a hotel and participated in a demonstration that brought together nearly 300 people. He was isolated and showed no symptoms on Sunday, the statement said.

The Institut Pasteur in Dakar on Sunday announced two more cases of omicron a few hours later, claiming that they were travelers leaving Dakar.

The cases include a 28-year-old man who tested positive on November 23, as well as a 29-year-old woman staying at a hotel in Dakar who tested positive on December 1.

The Institut Pasteur added on Twitter that “out of the 22 sequences obtained for the period, the delta variant remains in the majority”.

Last week, President Macky Sall called on the population to respect preventive measures. The news comes as Senegal enters its tourist season and plans to host South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and host the annual Dakar International Peace and Security Forum today.

Tunisian health officials said on Sunday that a man from Turkey had tested positive.

A member of the Tunisian covid-19 task force, Dr Hachemi Louzer, said the man was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He tested positive at Tunis international airport on Friday after arriving from Istanbul and subsequent screening of the sample at the Pasteur Institute of Public Health in the capital Tunis, the omicron variant confirmed, Louzer said. .

Several of his fellow travelers, including his brother, who tested negative for covid-19 have been quarantined, he said.

Health officials have restricted travel to Tunisia after the omicron variant spread in Africa and Europe over the past week.

The overall epidemiological situation in Tunisia has improved over the past two months after the country received vaccine shipments from several countries, including the United States, health experts said.

More than 25,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Tunisia.

GERMAN RESTRICTIONS

Meanwhile, Germany’s new transport minister is advising people against traveling on Christmas as the country tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections.

Federal and state leaders on Thursday announced tough new restrictions that widely target unvaccinated people, preventing them from entering non-essential shops, restaurants, sporting and cultural venues. In the longer term, Parliament will consider a general mandate on vaccines.

Volker Wissing, whose pro-business party has appointed him as transport minister in the new government, said in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper edition on Sunday that “in the current situation, it seems better to spend Christmas small. group at home and not to plan long trips across the country.

“Winter 2021 will be more dramatic than winter 2020,” he added.

The new government headed by center-left Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz is expected to take office on Wednesday, provided that the three parties that will form it sign their coalition agreement and Scholz obtains the support of a parliamentary majority.

At least 68.9% of Germans are fully vaccinated against covid-19, falling short of the government’s target of a minimum vaccination rate of 75%. The shortfall has been blamed as a key factor in a wave of new virus cases in recent weeks.

Official figures suggest the infection rate may now stabilize, but at too high a level. On Sunday, the National Center for Disease Control reported 42,055 new daily cases and a seven-day infection rate of 439.2 new cases per 100,000 population. Another 94 deaths in 24 hours brought Germany’s confirmed total in the pandemic to 103,040.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday issued a final direct appeal to Germans to get vaccinated, saying an upsurge in deaths is “so bitter because it is preventable”.

PROTESTS IN BELGIUM

Belgian police used water cannons and tear gas on Sunday to disperse rowdy protesters in Brussels after most protesters marched peacefully to protest tightening of covid-19 restrictions aimed at countering a wave of infections coronavirus.

Thousands of people have come to reject the new measures announced on Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases strain the country’s health services, denying treatment to people with the disease. ‘other fatal diseases.

Shout “Freedom! Freedom!” and carrying banners saying “United for our freedom, our rights and our children”, the demonstrators marched to the headquarters of the European Union. Some also carried signs criticizing vaccines and against the obligation to be vaccinated.

The main crowd of Sunday’s mostly peaceful march had already dispersed when around 100 protesters clashed with a riot police barricade blocking access to the European Commission. After a brief confrontation with police, protesters sent trash and other items, including a bicycle, to police and set off firecrackers and flares. The police used water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. No injuries were immediately reported.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday that day care centers and primary schools would close for the holidays a week earlier, and children must now wear masks from the age of 6. Indoor events will only be permitted with a maximum of 200 people.

Previously, the government closed nightclubs and ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. for three weeks. Speculation was rife that closing hours would be brought forward to 8 p.m., but the cabinet decided not to do so.

According to the latest coronavirus figures, the European nation of 11 million people appears to have reached a plateau.

On a weekly average, 17,862 new daily cases were reported in Belgium, an increase of 6% compared to the previous week. Hospital admissions increased 4%. More than 3,700 people are hospitalized with the virus, including 821 in intensive care. More than 27,000 people infected with the virus have died in Belgium since the start of the epidemic last year.

Information for this article was provided by Carley Petesch, Babacar Dione, Bouazza Ben Bouazza of the Associated Press.


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