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Omicron. “An avalanche of business is not far off”

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The announcement that a new variant of Omicron already dominates London and could now be as high as 50% of new cases was a wake-up call yesterday, as national estimates put 200,000 people currently infected in the UK every day. At a time when there are signs that the new variant appears to be associated with milder symptoms than Delta, Boris Johnson said the idea that Omicron is milder needs to be shelved and focused on how quickly it changes. The day before, UK Education Minister Nadhim Zahavi had already formulated the scenario as follows: “Let’s do a little math exercise: by the end of December, we had reached a million infections. 1% is 10 thousand serious cases that could be in the hospital. In three days – two million, in three days – four million, in three days – eight million. It’s a risk, even if it’s lighter, say 50% lighter than Delta, when the numbers are big it’s a small percentage of a very large population, ”he said on Sunday.

In i, epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomez agrees that this is an important message at a time of uncertainty, when the high transmissibility of a new variant seems to be the only closed element. “The fact that he has tremendous permeability has already been noticed. With regard to the clinical characteristics of our population with high vaccination coverage, but also older, we do not know if it will be identical to that observed in South Africa, where there is a younger population and a lot of immunity acquired through natural infection. We have to wait one to two weeks. Now let’s imagine a better scenario in which Omicron is not very pathogenic and usually causes a significantly lower hospital admission rate than Delta, ”says a professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Lisbon. “If that happens, in the medium term, we can all be immunized with Omicron naturally, and it could even be the end of the pandemic, we don’t know. But despite the fact that they are less pathogenic than Delta, we can see that the number of infections can grow very quickly, as cases increase like an avalanche. And when we work with a small percentage of severe cases with a huge number of infections in a short period of time, it can cause a tremendous burden on the hospital, especially when we know that it is winter and the pressure is already high. “

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He warns that the likelihood that the country will face this avalanche of cases in the coming weeks is “very high.” “Nobody can be sure. The UK expects this in the second half of December, I would say it will appear on the horizon several weeks ahead of us, ”says the epidemiologist, who emphasizes that for better perception, it will be necessary to understand how much this option is already circulating in Portugal.

Today, new data comes from Dr. Ricardo Jorge’s National Institutes of Health, but sequencing is always delayed by one week (data will be published until December 4th). Sporadic cases have already been identified in the Central Region last week and the sources I have heard do not indicate community spread, but the experience in the UK, where the new variant is currently estimated at 20% of cases, shows that there is a week, there was a fraction of it. There is another element that makes it difficult to draw conclusions: the countries that reported most cases of the new variant, in addition to the UK, Denmark and Norway, have the most complete sequencing programs. “On the one hand, we will be able to see what data is coming from these higher circulating countries in terms of hospitalizations and severity,” notes Carmo Gomez, considering, however, that if circulation in other European countries is already approaching similar levels for residents of the United In the Kingdom, this is similar to wanting to “stop the wind with your hands” as it is necessary to maintain current measures and raise awareness of the increased risk of infection during Christmas and the arrival of expatriates.

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No rules for UK travelers London is currently the first European capital to claim the dominance of Omicron over Delta, which so far has had this behavior in South Africa.
I tried to find out with the government and DGS if, with this announcement, the arrangements for arrivals from the UK will be revised in line with those in effect for travelers from seven South African countries from the end of November, taking into account 14 days of isolation on arrival in Portugal, but there was no answer.

For Carmo Gomez, border closures are not appropriate, but she believes it is important to remain vigilant and encourage testing, as was done for those who came from southern Africa.

Ao i, Vice President of the National Association of Public Health Physicians Gustavo Tato Borges, argues that it is fair to extend the 14-day isolation rule that applies to African countries to the United Kingdom and other European countries. with a wider spread of the option, pending the definition of the rules, but emphasizes that as Omicron becomes dominant, this type of measure will no longer be effective and there is a need to strengthen protections at the national level.

We expect high vaccination coverage in Portugal, more than 10 percentage points higher than in the United Kingdom (69% versus 86%) – together with reinforcement and vaccination of children – to help slow the rise in cases even in the face of the Omicron option Gustavo Tato Borges stresses that if a country is faced with an exponential growth scenario, even if it is more favorable, it will need to reorganize the work of public health teams that cannot fight tens of thousands of infections a day.

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Even today, as the latest DGS report showed, contacts are no longer tracked in all cases, with 68% of contacts being tracked in the last week, up from about 81% at the end of November. “We know that Omicron will dominate, otherwise it’s unrealistic to think. If we have a sharp increase in the number of cases, I think we will have to start evaluating symptomatic cases much more and tracking contacts with these cases and reducing the observation of asymptomatic cases, otherwise we will not have enough manpower to respond to everything, ”warns he’s Gustavo. Tato Borges.

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Salman Rushdie attacked with knife, police say writer suffered neck and stomach injuries

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British writer Salman Rushdie was the target of an attack this Friday at an event in New York State. The Booker Prize-winning author was preparing to speak at the Chautauqua Institute and witnesses say they saw a man run onto the stage, where he attacked the interviewer and Rushdie, who suffered neck and stomach injuries, police said. with a knife.

The NYPD identified the suspect in the attack as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey, and believe he acted alone. Authorities said there were no threats prior to the event, but said they did not know the reason for the attack.

After the attack, Salman Rushdie, 75, was airlifted to a local hospital. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but New York Gov. Katie Hochul said the writer is alive and “getting the help he needs.” The author’s spokesman, Andrew Wylie, said in an emailed statement that “Rushdie is in surgery” but did not provide any details.

Part of the audience took to the stage shortly after the incident, which took place around 11 am local time (4 pm in mainland Portugal). According to an Associated Press correspondent, the writer was lying on the floor, assisted by a lifeguard who later fled the scene. Henry Reese, the interviewer, also suffered a minor head injury. Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit organization that provides sanctuary for exiled writers who are at risk of persecution.

The attacker was immobilized and detained by the police, but no information has yet been received. British newspaper The Guardian cites eyewitness accounts who say they saw a man wearing a black face mask run onto the stage and attack Rushdie as he sat down. Paula Voell, a retired journalist, said: at the Buffalo News: “We saw the man run a few steps across the stage, and there was horror – the whole audience reacted, and probably 15 people ran out onto the stage to try to look at him.”

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Iran ordered the assassination of Rushdie in 1989.

The author of The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, was sentenced to death by Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini a year after publication on charges of blasphemous labor for Muslim believers. This decision forced Salman Rushdie to live in an unknown area under police protection, and a fatwa issued by the Iranian leader promising a three million dollar reward to anyone who kills the writer ultimately became the source of the rupture of diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran. The Iranian government has long distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment persists.

In 2012, the Iranian Religious Foundation increased the bounty for Rushdie’s assassination to $3.3 million. At the time, Rushdie downplayed the threat, saying there was “no evidence” that people were interested in the reward. In the same year, the writer published his memoirs “Joseph Anton Memory”, about the “fatwa”.

Author of about two dozen works, Rushdie received the Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight’s Children, also awarded the Booker Prize in 1993, and in 2008 for The Best of Booker. “O Último Suspiro do Mouro” earned him the Withbread Prize in 1995 and the European Union Literary Prize in 1996.

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EU President considers visa ban for all Russians – Newsroom

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“A total freeze on Russian visas by all EU member states could be another very effective sanction,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said in a statement obtained by AFP.

Lipavsky said he would make the offer at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague at the end of August.

The Ukrainian authorities are demanding such a step from the EU, but this has divided the countries of the block, which are forced to unanimously adopt sanctions.

“During this period of Russian aggression, which the Kremlin continues to intensify, one cannot speak of ordinary tourism for Russian citizens,” Lipavsky said. Otherwise, the Czech Republic has stopped issuing visas to Russians since February 25, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The EU has so far adopted six packages of sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Western countries to ban all Russian citizens from entering their territory in an interview with the Washington Post this week.

Last week, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto unveiled a plan to limit tourist visas for Russians.

Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s prime minister, also on the border with Russia, earlier this week urged the EU to stop issuing visas to Russians.

“Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” he tweeted on Tuesday. Lipavsky said the move would send “a very clear and direct signal to Russian society.”

This would show that “the Western world does not tolerate the aggression and hateful rhetoric of the Russian regime against free and democratic countries that do not pose a threat to Russia,” he added.

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Shooter shot dead while trying to break into FBI office

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A gunman who tried to break into an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, was killed by law enforcement on Thursday after several hours of clashes.

The incident at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office in Cincinnati comes after authorities warned of an increase in threats against federal agents in the days following Monday’s searches of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

The FBI said in a statement that early Thursday morning, a gunman attempted to “break into” an office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“An alarm went off, armed FBI agents arrived, and the suspect fled,” the federal police said.

Police sources said the man was wearing a bulletproof vest and was chased down the freeway and then abandoned his car on nearby country roads bordering forests and farmland near Interstate 71, about 45 miles (72 km) ) northeast of Cincinnati.

“After the car stopped, a shootout broke out between the police and the suspect,” the federal police said.

The man fled to a cornfield, where he was surrounded by police, who unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with him to surrender to the authorities, an Ohio police spokesman said in the evening.

The 42-year-old man died at the scene after pointing a gun at the police, who opened fire.

FBI Director Christopher Wray announced on Wednesday that the FBI had received threats following the search of Trump’s home, calling them “deplorable and dangerous.”

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