HSE Boss Paul Reid Admits Delays At Vaccine & Testing Centres But Urges Public To Come Forward As Omicron Spreads

France has made working from home mandatory for at least three days a week 

  • Paris has also banned food on long-distance trains to reduce the spread of Covid 

  • It comes as coronavirus cases across Europe have spiked, especially in Denmark

  • The five countries with highest case rates over the last week were all European

  • By Chris Matthews For Mailonline

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    France announced a raft of Covid measures today as the country braces for a surge in cases due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant in Europe.

    Working from home is now mandatory for at least three days a week while indoor events have limits on attendance and people are banned from eating on long-distance trains.

    French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in response to a rapid spread of Omicron, the government is narrowing the delay for a third booster shot to three months from four, but there will be no curfew for New Year's Eve.

    He added that from Monday and for the next three weeks, all public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people for indoor events, and to 5,000 people for outdoor events. 

    Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said a ban on food and drinks on long-distance trains was probably an attempt to ensure people wear masks as much as possible.

    Prof Hunter told MailOnline: 'If people wear face coverings it will reduce the rate of transmission by about 20 per cent.'

    However, he said whether the food and drinks ban will make a big impact was 'uncertain' 

    French officials warned hospitals risk being overwhelmed again after a record 100,000 cases were reported on Saturday, the highest daily level in France since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

    Health experts estimated the number of daily cases could increase rapidly by mid-January, even though millions of people received booster shots in recent weeks.

    Nearly 3,300 people are currently in intensive care, again above the crisis threshold of 3,000 set by authorities for handling the worst cases.

    The five countries with the highest coronavirus case rates over the last week were all European

    The five countries with the highest coronavirus case rates over the last week were all European

    Around 22 million people out of an eligible 40 million in France have received Covid booster shots.

    President Macron held a crisis meeting at 3pm via videoconference from his Mediterranean holiday retreat at Bregancon, in the south of Grace, with key members of his cabinet and representatives of French public health bodies. 

    Officials urged people not to hold parties or large family gatherings over the holidays. 

    France's President Emmanuel Macron lead a special cabinet meeting (pictured) to discuss a new Covid vaccine pass and new measures to curb the spread of Omicron coronavirus variant, from the Fort de Bregancon, presidential holidays residence, in Bormes-les-Mimosas, France

    France's President Emmanuel Macron lead a special cabinet meeting (pictured) to discuss a new Covid vaccine pass and new measures to curb the spread of Omicron coronavirus variant, from the Fort de Bregancon, presidential holidays residence, in Bormes-les-Mimosas, France 

    It comes as other European countries saw record coronavirus cases.

    Denmark and Iceland reported record daily coronavirus cases on Monday.

    Both Nordic nations had some of Europe's lowest infection rates before Omicron's arrival.

    Europe recorded the most Covid cases and deaths in the past seven days.

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    The five countries with the highest case rates over the last seven days were all European.

    Denmark's daily infection total exceeded 15,000 for the first time, with health authorities registering 16,164 Covid cases in a single day.

    The country of 5.8 million people has the world's highest infection rate, with 1,612 cases per 100,000 people.

    However, only seven deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

    People queue for a rapid test at a test centre set up at Budolfi Church in the center of Aalborg, Denmark

    People queue for a rapid test at a test centre set up at Budolfi Church in the center of Aalborg, Denmark

    Early studies suggested Omicron causes less severe disease than previous strains such as the Delta variant that was first identified in India.

    Denmark closed cultural attractions and limited opening hours in bars and restaurants in mid-December to fight the latest wave of infections as Omicron became the dominant strain.

    Meanwhile Iceland registered a record 672 cases in the past 24 hours, despite never having reported more than 200 daily cases until mid-December.

    During last year's autumn wave, daily infection totals in Iceland never exceeded 100.

    In neighbouring Norway, Omicron has become the dominant variant in the capital Oslo.

    The Irish HSE fully reopened vaccination centres as 6,735 Covid cases were reported on Monday. Pictured: Christmas shoppers in Dublin.

    The Irish HSE fully reopened vaccination centres as 6,735 Covid cases were reported on Monday. Pictured: Christmas shoppers in Dublin.

    Latest figures in Ireland show that 461 Covid patients are in hospital, with 91 in intensive care. Pictured: Irish shoppers in Dublin

    Latest figures in Ireland show that 461 Covid patients are in hospital, with 91 in intensive care. Pictured: Irish shoppers in Dublin

    Health officials in Ireland were also expecting large Covid case numbers reported over the coming days.

    Testing centres across the country fully reopened after some were closed or scaled back over the Christmas period.

    The Irish HSE fully reopened vaccination centres as 6,735 Covid cases were reported on Monday.

    Latest figures show 461 Covid patients are in hospital, with 91 in intensive care.

    The overall positivity rate was nearly 50 per cent

    Health officials believed 87 per cent of reported cases in Ireland are now due to Omicron.

    High numbers of Covid cases come as the number of infections in the UK has spiked massively

    High numbers of Covid cases come as the number of infections in the UK has spiked massively

    The number of deaths as a result of coronavirus hasn't spiked at the same rate in the UK

    The number of deaths as a result of coronavirus hasn't spiked at the same rate in the UK

    The Department of Health tweeted that it was anticipating 'large volumes of case numbers over the coming period'.

    Earlier HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted: 'Well done to all of our vaccination teams. Back at it.

    'It's never too late to receive your first dose vaccine. Please take the earliest opportunity to receive your booster.'

    Ireland already has a range of restrictions in place amid concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant.

    All restaurants, bars and cafes have had to shut their doors at 8pm, while indoor events have a limited attendance of 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.

    Outdoor events are also limited to half capacity with a maximum of 5,000 people.

    Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10347949/France-prepares-announce-new-Covid-measures-sees-record-coronavirus-cases.html

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