From Thursday, people in England will no longer have to show their Covid passes to enter nightclubs and other large venues. Masks are no longer required in public places, although they are still recommended on public transport. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also relaxing their restrictions.
The UK government insists the decision to lift the restrictions was informed by science.
The numbers look positive: The big wave of new cases caused by the more transmissible Omicron variant during the holiday season appears to have slowed down.
Official data shows that the number of daily infections has fallen from its peak of more than 245,000 on January 4 to just over 60,000 on Monday.
The UK is not the only country to continue a return to normalcy.
The Netherlands reopened almost all its services, catering and leisure businesses on Wednesday after a prolonged lockdown.
In an announcement on its website, the Dutch government said that while the number of cases is still high and may increase further as people start to mix more, it “considers it responsible to take this big step”.
“Despite the risks and uncertainties, the government considers it responsible to take this big step. Because extending the measures that limit our daily lives so much, is also harmful to people’s health and to society as a whole,” it says.
And the French government announced last week that it will begin easing its Covid-19 rules from next week, despite reporting some of the highest numbers of cases of the entire pandemic.
So could the European approach work in the United States?
Vaccination rates are probably the deciding factor in how safe it is to live with the coronavirus.
Although the Omicron variant causes milder disease, countries with low vaccination coverage can still face overcrowded hospitals due to the high number of cases.
And here lies the difference. Denmark has fully vaccinated 81% of people, France 76%, the Netherlands 72% and the UK 71%, according to Our World in Data. However, in the US, only about 63% of people are fully vaccinated. And in some states, that figure is much lower. Alabama, Mississippi and Wyoming have not yet fully vaccinated half of their total populations, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Q: Can Covid-19 Vaccinations Cause Infertility?
There is already substantial evidence that there is no link between Covid-19 vaccinations and a reduced chance of getting pregnant.
A study published last week in the American Journal of Epidemiology added to that growing body of evidence.
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Will Omicron be the variant to end the pandemic?
Some within the scientific community are cautiously optimistic that Omicron could be the last act of the pandemic – providing huge swathes of the world with “a layer of immunity”, bringing us closer to an endemic stage where Covid-19 is similar to seasonal illnesses such as the common cold or flu.
Australia has been a model in how to deal with Covid. Now it’s a mess
After cutting off much of the pandemic from the world, Australia is trying to find a new approach to living with Covid. But that shift has coincided with the rise of Omicron, which has caused the number of cases to skyrocket.
Australia has recorded around 3,000 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, a relatively low toll largely due to the government’s swift measures to close its borders and impose lengthy lockdowns.
How I ended up in a Hong Kong government quarantine camp
PCR is the gold standard for Covid-19 testing, but experts say it’s not necessarily the best option for every situation.
PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests are very sensitive in diagnosing Covid-19. But while this sensitivity is beneficial for detecting coronavirus after a recent exposure, it means the results can be positive even after a person is no longer contagious.
A PCR test could say you’re positive for coronavirus for three or four weeks after you recover, because it still “picks up a previous infection and the small fragments (of the virus) are still amplified,” DailyExpertNews Medical said. Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.