While China is back to harsh lockdowns due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and world leaders keep reminding people of the importance of getting vaccinated, western powers such as the United Kingdon and The Netherlands are lifting all restrictions in the coming days.
As the Omicron variant keeps spreading nationwide, more than 40 million people have been placed under strict quarantine in China between Shenzhen and the entire province of Jilin. People in those areas are seen lining up for testing, while officials have their faces covered by protective gear.
In Beijing, test tents have become a permanent part of the cityscape, although it was initially thought that they would only be there during the Winter Olympics. However, the zero tolerance policy has remained in force.
During this past weekend, former US President Barack Obama has tested positive for COVID-19, while his wife had tested negative, according to postings on social media Sunday by the former Democratic head of state.
“I just tested positive for COVID. I’ve had a scratchy throat for a couple days, but am feeling fine otherwise,” the former president tweeted. “Michelle and I are grateful to be vaccinated and boosted, and she has tested negative,” Obama added.
He also called his positive test “a reminder to get vaccinated if you haven’t already, even as cases go down.”
Meanwhile, all sanitary measures will be relaxed in the United Kingdom starting Friday, as the number of infections has dropped in the country. The UK Government will remove all remaining restrictions for international travel, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced Tuesday, thanks to which foreign travelers will be allowed into the country without any conditions for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The lifting of all restrictions includes the tracing form for arriving passengers as well as all tests for those who do not qualify as vaccinated.
The decision was made despite Scotland having reported a record number of infections in recent days.
The UK has added 444,201 positive infections and 726 deaths from coronavirus in the past seven days, for a total of 19,700,952 cases and 162,873 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
More than 91% of people aged 12 years and older in the country have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, more than 85% have received the required two doses, and more than 67% have received a booster shot.
Also lifting all restrictions is the Dutch government, starting next week, even though a recent spike in transmission has been reported, as the country learns to live with the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.
The Netherlands has ended a nationwide quarantine and eliminated nearly all pandemic-related measures. As of March 23, facemasks will no longer be mandatory on public transport, although they will still be mandatory on airplanes and at airport security checkpoints.
The government will also stop requiring a digital certificate to enter nightclubs and large events, the only places where these documents were still mandatory.
It is possible and responsible to further mitigate the measures, Health Minister Ernst Kuipers explained.