Are we ready to treat Covid like the flu? Some nations are increasingly thinking so

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jan 14, 2022, 09:36 PM(IST)

Covid may be endemic like the flu Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Experts in the US say that most of the population will be infected with the Omicron variant, and WHO itself said more than half of Europe will have the virus in coming days, both pointing towards it becoming as common as the flu

Slowly but surely several governments are coming around to the idea that Covid may be endemic like the flu and asking people to live with it. While WHO is warning against such a conclusion, Spain became the first European country to move towards ending mask mandates. 

Experts in the US say that most of the population will be infected with the Omicron variant, and WHO itself said more than half of Europe will have the virus in coming days, both pointing towards it becoming as common as the flu.

It may still be early days but admittedly, neither lockdowns nor vaccinations are completely preventing the spread. This much was expressed by Israel's prime minister whose country was among the few who vaccinated most of its adult population, rolled out the third, and is even mulling a fourth dose.

Switzerland’s interior minister Alain Berset has said that the transition from pandemic to a stage like the flu may be considered. While speaking at a media conference, he said, “We may be on the eve of a watershed, the transition from a pandemic phase to an endemic phase."

Britain’s Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, told the BBC that the UK is “on a path towards transitioning from pandemic to endemic." 

Also read | British economy reaches back above pre-COVID level for first time

This comes in after the UK economy was seen returning to pre-pandemic levels for the first time. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.9 per cent in November, compared to 0.1 per cent in October. The holiday season made a significant contribution to the economy's rebound.

Travel restrictions may also be eased in several European nations. Many countries have shortened their quarantine time. In Estonia and Iceland, quarantine time has been reduced to seven days.

Slovenia has also shortened its quarantine time to five days. 

Also read | Covid spawned 20 new ‘pandemic billionaires’ in Asia, says Oxfam report

Norway, also, is looking forward to relaxing some Covid restrictions. The Scandinavian country will partly reverse a ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants, reports Reuters. Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Stoere, while speaking at a news conference said, "We can ease some restrictions, but not all."

Restrictions in the Netherlands will also be eased starting from Saturday. Non-essential stores, hairdressers and gyms will now be allowed to reopen. However, only a limited number of customers will be permitted.

Students will also be allowed to attend their colleges and universities. Bars, restaurants, museums and other public places will remain closed.

(With inputs from agencies)

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