(Antigua Observer) It is likely that the government will follow through with plans to end the current State of Emergency (SOE), through an Act of Parliament on December 23, despite growing concerns with the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne made the disclosure on the weekend pointing out that the Omicron variant appears milder than the Delta strain resulting in fewer hospitalisations and deaths.
“We will obviously hold to that policy decision that we took a few weeks ago to remove the curfew as well as the State of Emergency. In fact, we go to Parliament next Thursday and the SOE is likely to be removed unless the data by then would have shown some difference in analysis that it is a more significant threat and there is a need to continue those measures.
“What we are seeking to do now is to return to normalcy. We do not have enough people vaccinated we need at least another 10,000 people vaccinated. The Omicron variant has a higher transmissibility rate than the Delta variant and the probability of contracting it will increase significantly,” he said.
First identified in Botswana and South Africa in November, Omicron has prompted concern among scientists and public health officials because it carries an unusually high number of mutations that make it more transmissible and less susceptible to existing vaccines.
On November 26, the World Health Organisation designated Omicron a “variant of concern” and that the global risks posed by it were “very high.”
Since then, the variant has been identified in nearly sixty countries, according to the WHO, on every continent except Antarctica
The UN agency also said on Sunday that while Omicron was more transmissible than the Delta strain, and reduced vaccine efficacy, it caused less severe symptoms according to early data.