European countries are slowly relaxing measures to contain the virus. The massive spread of the Omicron strain raises the question of whether it still makes sense to resort to restrictions.
A mass infection is also underway in Serbia, so the question is whether the few measures officially still in place will hold up, namely wearing masks in enclosed spaces and mandatory COVID passes after 8 pm in catering establishments.
The results of studies on the Omicron strain show that Omicron is significantly less dangerous than the strains we have encountered so far. In addition, the number of vaccinated people is steadily increasing and the possibility of catastrophic consequences is decreasing.
In recent days, Great Britain, Ireland, and Sweden have decided on a live-with-the-coronavirus strategy. Ireland lifted almost all restrictions, including measures related to the hospitality industry, restrictions on sporting events, and mandatory vaccination for indoor admissions. Ireland has the second-highest rate of infection in Europe, but also the highest number of citizens in Europe who have received their third dose of vaccine. Some measures remain in place, such as mandatory mask-wearing in public transport and in stores.
The British Health Minister said that the UK must learn to live with the coronavirus, as it could be in the country for a foreseeable future. “The virus will be with us for many more years, maybe forever, and we have to learn to live with it,“ he said.
Dr Nemanja Radojevic from the Montenegrin Clinical Centre, is in favour of abolishing all anti-epidemic measures and the suspension of testing for coronavirus because he thinks the new strain gives mild clinical symptoms.
“Omicron has allowed the coronavirus to cease to be a medical problem; it is now a more political and even philosophical problem if you look at it from the point of view of existentialism. It has affected our lives so much in the last two years that it is time for doctors to slowly realize that the epidemic is coming to an end; nothing new will happen if we now increase the vaccination rate, which is about 50% in the countries of the region. There will always be anti-vaccination lobbies at play and we will never achieve herd immunity. It is time for everyone to take responsibility for their own health,” says Dr Radojevic.
What about Serbia? Here, measures are almost non-existent and those officially in place are poorly enforced. More than 10,000 people are infected every day, but the number of hospitalized people is still significantly lower than in previous waves and with previous strains.
Meanwhile, doctors continue to call for caution but do not hide their optimism. As the second semester begins in school, that poses a new threat of a wave of the virus. “We would like to remind that during the stay at the school, from the moment of entry into the schoolyard until the exit from the schoolyard, the use of protective masks is mandatory for all employees, students and other staff,” the Ministry of Education has said.
Furthermore, it is necessary to improve general and personal hygiene measures (washing and disinfection of hands) and, above all, to take care of the regular ventilation of all rooms where students and employees of the school are staying.
“There is a good chance that this is the end of the pandemic. Omicron is probably a step in the right direction,” says Dr Milanko Sekler, a virologist, in an interview for Nova.
He believes that the fear that escalated with the appearance of omicron was excessive.
“In my opinion, the cancellation of flights was wrong. You don’t need to protect yourself from a virus that is more transmissible, but less pathogenic. At the same time, you have a virus in your country that is much more pathogenic. That was hasty,” Dr Sekler said.
The new strains are increasingly similar to each other and the protection overlaps better and better, Dr Seckler is optimistic. He adds that the hospitalization rate in patients with Delta strain was five percent, and with Omicron it was about one percent.
This post is also available in: Italiano