Covid: These countries are still at the center of the Omicron wave

Incidence rate, number of deaths, hospitalizations in intensive care… Although the number of new cases in France has started to increase slightly in recent days, the indicators have been decreasing in the last Covid-19 wave for a few weeks. . The trend is similar globally: the number of new contaminations recorded each day has dropped significantly over the past month and is back to 1.5 million, the level at the beginning of January. It has risen very little since last weekend. After falling far, the death toll remains high: an average of 7,200 deaths per day, according to data from the site “Our world in data.”

Reflux in recent weeks has been clear in Europe and North and South America, where half of the cases have been recorded. And this is even if incidence rates in some European countries (Iceland, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Baltic countries etc.) remain among the highest in the world. The death toll is also falling, albeit more slowly.

But the wave continues to rise in about twenty countries, half of which is in Asia. The small province of Brunei on the island of Borneo therefore records the highest incidence rate in the world (ten times that of France) and South Korea the highest number of contaminations in absolute terms.

Record death rate in Hong Kong

First of all, the situation in Hong Kong has become critical: The city has been exploding in the number of cases since the beginning of February, despite its “zero Covid” policy with China. In just over a month, the incidence rate was multiplied by 360.

Both hospitals and morgues are overflowing. Patients pile on stretchers outdoors outside the emergency rooms, and thousands of asymptomatic patients are separated from their loved ones. The United States has also recommended against traveling to Hong Kong after minors who test positive are forcibly separated from their parents. This prospect has prompted expatriates to flee: the former British colony has lost more than 40,000 residents in the past two weeks.

The death rate there is currently the highest in the world. Poorly vaccinated seniors are the first victims. Less than half of the city’s elders received their doses, and only 15% of those living in public housing. Researchers from the University of Hong Kong, interviewed by Bloomberg, warn that these could turn into deadly epidemic foci.

Under pressure, the Hong Kong government is preparing to conduct a three-time sweep of its 7.4 residents. There is something to worry residents: every infected person will have to isolate outside their place of residence, especially in prefabricated camps under construction. The limitation was a priori excluded as soon as a few cases arose, as practiced in some cities by China.

undead wave in New Zealand

Another state has seen a spectacular explosion in cases in recent weeks: New Zealand. The archipelago, like its Australian neighbor, abandoned its “zero Covid” strategy at the end of last year, but keeps its borders virtually closed.

So vaccinated (94% of the population, including 100% of those over 75), the island grieves for very few deaths. It has detected 9 in recent days, bringing the total to 65 since the start of the pandemic. That good news was marred by violent protests by anti-vaccination protesters in Wellington, where New Zealand police evacuated last week after three weeks of movement inspired by Canadian truck drivers.

Outside of these few countries, the decline of the Omicron wave across much of the planet is fueling hope for an end to the health crisis despite various uncertainties: the effectiveness of vaccines over time, the effectiveness of antiviral pills, and in particular its impact on the appearance of viruses. new variants. A Japanese study published last week showed that Omicron, the least lethal variant of Kovid, had a 40% higher mortality rate than seasonal flu.