Closures will no longer work with Omicron

A new kind of pandemic, experts say.

Closures will not help slow Omicron very much.Closures will not help slow Omicron very much. (Source: TASR)

Allowing a person with Covid into the workplace has so far been considered a health risk and punishable by law. In a few weeks, it may become a necessity in Slovakia.

With the fourth pandemic wave driven by the superinfectious Omicron variant, Slovakia will need to take some measures it has not seen yet.

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With the expected steep increase in infections, tens of thousands of people will end up in mandatory isolation at the same time. This may lead to collapses at workplaces.

"Omicron will have much greater effects on society when it peaks than the previous waves," mathematician Richard Kollár explained. Some countries have already taken to shortening the quarantine to seven or just five days. "People thus are joining the work process, aware that they may still spread the virus."

Analysts expect that there could be up to 180,000 people with Covid on one given day at the peak of the coming wave. This could mean hundreds of thousands of people under home isolation in one given week.

The government will thus need to reassess the measures it has applied to mitigate the spread of the virus so far. The Omicron has characteristics that cause these measures to significantly lose effectiveness. Closing shops, contact tracing or closed cinemas and theatres will have a minimum impact on the spread of Omicron.

"The growth increase is so high that standard measures have no effect on stopping the spread. Vaccination is the only way," claims Matej Mišík, the chief analyst of the Health Ministry's think tank Institute of Health Analyses.

Kollár and tropical diseases expert Vladimír Krčméry both brand the upcoming fourth wave the new pandemic. They expect Slovakia to struggle with a shortage of tests, while even a strict lockdown would do little to slow the increase of infections.

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