For many in the UK, the epidemic may be over.
Mask requirements have been reduced. Free mass testing is a thing of the past. For the first time since the spring of 2020, people can go abroad for the holidays without ordering tests or filling out long forms.
Despite the increase in epidemics in the UK in March, that sense of independence is widespread, driven by the moderate but highly contagious Omicron BA.2 variant, which is spreading rapidly in Europe, the US and elsewhere.
The ease of corona virus controls may indicate what the situation in the UK is like in front of other countries.
There has been an increase in similar infections in France and Germany in recent weeks, and the number of hospital admissions in the UK and France has risen again – although the number of deaths per day is lower than previously seen in epidemics.
In the United States, more and more Americans are testing at home, so the official case numbers may be in very large numbers. The list of new victims includes actors and politicians, who are constantly being tested. Cabinet members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Broadway actors and governors of New Jersey and Connecticut have all been tested positive.
Britain stands alone in Europe because it abandoned all mitigation policies in February, including forced self-isolation for victims. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to stick to its “live with COVID” plan, but experts disagree on whether the country is doing well.
Some scientists argue that “living with COVID” means tolerating a certain amount of disruption and death, just as we do with seasonal flu. Others believe the British government removed the restrictions very quickly and very quickly. They warned that people over the age of 55 – who could become seriously ill from COVID-19 – would continue to have higher mortality and hospital admissions due to infection despite higher vaccinations now.
Stephen Bowis, medical director of the National Health Service, said hospitals were once again plagued by viral patients and a large number of sick staff.
Stephen Griffin, a professor of medicine at the University of Leeds, says, “Seeing us blindly to harm of this magnitude is not the same as living with a viral infection – the opposite is true.” Without adequate vaccination, ventilation, masking, isolation and testing, we will continue to ‘live’ with disruptions, disease and, unfortunately,.
Others, including Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, are increasingly supportive of government policies.
“It simply came to our notice then [COVID-19] It is going to do very little harm but we are in a very bad situation, ”he said. He argued that once high vaccination rates were reached, there was little value in maintaining controls such as social exclusion because “they never prevent infections, they delay them”.
The UK’s official statistics estimate that nearly 5 million UK residents, or 1 in 13, had the virus by the end of March, with the highest number reported. Separately, a REACT study by Imperial College London found that in March, the country’s infection rates were 40% higher than the first Omigron peak in January.
Airlines have had to cancel flights during the busy two-week Easter break because infection rates are so high that more workers are getting sick.
France and Germany have seen similar uprisings as sanctions have been relaxed in most European countries. Despite the sharp drop in testing, more than 100,000 people in France are getting tested positive every day, and the number of viral patients in intensive care has risen by 22% in the past week.
The government of President Emmanuel Macron is keen to boost voter turnout in this month’s election, with no talk of new restrictions.
In Germany, infection levels have dropped from recent highs. But two days after the announcement by Health Minister Carl Lauterbach, he backed the decision to end compulsory self-isolation for victims. He said the program would send a “completely false” signal that “the epidemic is over or the virus has become significantly more vulnerable than previously thought”.
In the United States, eruptions at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University are bringing back mask requirements to those campuses as authorities search for isolated space.
Across Europe, only Spain and Switzerland have joined the UK in eliminating the need for self-isolation for some victims.
But many European countries have facilitated mass testing, which makes it more difficult to know how widespread the virus is. Britain stopped distributing free quick home tests this month.
Although Julian Tang, a flu virologist at the University of Leicester, says it’s important to have a monitoring program to track new strains and update vaccines, countries are dealing with the flu without mandatory controls or mass testing.
“Eventually, it will become more local and seasonal, like the Covit-19 flu,” Tang said. “Living with COVID should, for me, reflect living with the flu.”
Cambridge University virologist Ravindra Gupta is very cautious. Mortality rates for COVID-19 are much higher than seasonal flu, and the virus causes more severe disease, he warned. He would have liked to “loosen the controls more gently”.
“There is no reason to believe that a new variant will not be so contagious or severe,” he added.