World Slammed Nurses Brace for Omicron ‘Nightmare’ in Michigan
Fears new Covid super-variant Omicron ALREADY is already in Australia
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Saturday announced Australia would be joining Europe and the US in closing its borders to nine southern African countries to stop the new variant from entering the country. There are though 20 returned travellers quarantining in the Northern Territory who were repatriated from South Africa last week - one of whom has tested positive to Covid.Health officials in the Northern Territory are expected to confirm whether or not the infected case has the hyper-virulent new variant later on Saturday evening.
For the last month, medical workers acrosshave slogged toward another holiday season defined by surging COVID-19 cases, an almost surreal descent reminiscent of the pre-vaccine era in which the state emerged as an early pandemic hot spot.
Cases have spiked dramatically and hospitals across the state have been pushed to the brink. Looming mass gatherings,, and already had doctors and nurses fearing further chaos.
Then came the threat of the, which—early though it may be—experts fear could be even than the
Face mask rules tightened, PCR tests for travellers and jabbed have to isolate if in contact with an Omicron case
Boris Johnson has announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions during a Downing Street press conference following the detection of the Omicron variant in the UK. © Sky Boris Johnson holding a news conference after two cases of the new Omicron COVID variant were detected in the UK The prime minister warned the Omicron variant could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, as he announced a strengthening of England's rules, after two infections of the new strain were identified in Nottingham and Brentwood in Essex.
“I don’t know how much more our hospitals can take,” one Grand Rapids nurse, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional retribution, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “We are all already working overtime. The idea of more patients, less resources, and variants could cause more problems? It’s a nightmare.”
The Omicron variant, formally known as B.1.1.529, was classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday. The variant, first identified out of southern Africa, has been greeted with travel restrictions across the globe, including the United States imposing a new ban on most visitors from South Africa and seven other African countries. This even as scientists caution we know very little about any unique dangers it may pose beyond that it has dozens of mutations, including some 30-plus on the “spike” protein that helps the virus invade the body.
What you need to know about the omicron variant
Omicron is the newest Covid-19 “variant of concern,” according to the World Health Organization.Though the variant’s existence was first reported by South Africa, it has also been found in Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, meaning the variant has already spread — though how far is unclear, as new cases continue cropping up around the world.
As of Monday afternoon, perhaps thanks to a notoriously lacking disease-surveillance system in the United States, no cases of the new variant had been identified within Michigan, or any other state. But with cases identified by authorities across the world, including as close to hot-spot Michigan as Ontario, Canada, frontline workers were bracing for the worst.
“The idea of a new variant is just something we can’t wrap our minds around just yet,” Anthony Huynh, a nurse in Lansing, told The Daily Beast.
Even before Omicron emerged, fears of a possible tsunami of cases prompted the federal government to grant Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for staffing assistance, sending over 50 medical professionals to help two hospitals in the state for the next 30 days.
That’s because unlike some states already seeing a surge in cases—and a planet ready to panic at the prospect of a scary new variant—Michigan is already in the red zone.
COVID around the world: Israel to ban foreigners as other nations tighten restrictions on Britons
Global concern about the coronavirus pandemic is growing, with a number of countries detecting confirmed cases of the Omicron variant for the first time. © Associated Press Travel restrictions are being imposed once again as governments suspend flights from southern Africa Travel restrictions are also being imposed once again as governments suspend flights from southern Africa, the region where this strain was first detected. Here is a look at the latest COVID-19 developments around the world.On Saturday, Israel unveiled plans to ban all foreigners from entering the country.
The daily average of new cases spiked by over 50 percent in the past two weeks,. said that more than 84 percent of intensive-care unit beds were full, along with more than 80 percent of total hospital inpatient beds. With hospitalizations increasing steadily over the last 19 weeks, nine Michigan hospitals are now completely full—and another 22 hospitals are at 90 percent capacity.
“Hospitals are at capacity across the state, particularly in Metro Detroit and West Michigan, and this is taking a tremendous toll on our health care workers," Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director,
As ever, state data suggests that a large majority of these hospitalizations are residents who have not gotten the coronavirus vaccine or subsequent booster shot. In the last month, 72 percent of cases and over 70 percent of hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated. Almost 75 percent of deaths in Michigan were also associated with those who had not received a jab.
Sajid Javid says Christmas will be 'great' despite Omicron strain
Sajid Javid said the government was taking 'proportionate and balanced' precautions to 'buy time', but stressed there is no certainty that the 'super-mutant' strain will be able to dodge jabs.The Health Secretary said the government was taking 'proportionate and balanced' precautions to 'buy time', confirming that masks will be compulsory again in shops and on public transport from Tuesday.
Experts generally expect vaccines to provide at least some protection against any mutation of the coronavirus, including Omicron. And officials fromto Dr. Anthony Fauci on down are calling for Americans to embrace the measures we know have worked in the past: get vaccines (and boosters), and wear masks.
But in Michigan, relatively weak vaccination rates make the new variant’s emergence all the more disturbing.
“There is a sense that it is more transmissible, but we just don’t know yet,” Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer and an infectious-disease professor at the University of Michigan, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “But what we do know is that this could go in a very bad direction.”
For Huynh, a nurse at Sparrow Hospital, the workload is already overwhelming—and the idea of an additional strain imposed by a new variant is virtually “unimaginable.”
The 28-year-old was just a few months into his career as a nurse in the medical oncology unit when the pandemic began, and has been on the frontlines of the deadly pandemic for a little over two years.
Throughout the pandemic, Huynh and his co-workers have subjected themselves to gueling work weeks, volunteered for extra shifts to support one another, and dealt with the reality that less staff means more time in the hospital around COVID.
Everything we know about the Omicron Covid strain so far
Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter, who is the head of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne, said 'there's reason to be concerned but no reason to panic'.Epidemiologist Nancy Baxter, who is the head of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne, said 'there's reason to be concerned but no reason to panic' about the new variant.
“I think the fear is that during the holidays, people want to be with their families and forget a pandemic is happening. But without high vaccination numbers, that attitude means that hospitals will see a mass surge of cases and staff will have to work more than ever to keep up with the demand,” Huynh said. “And we don’t even know what the variant will bring.”
Jamie Brown, the president of the Michigan Nurses Association and a nurse herself, echoed the frustration over staffing and general exhaustion, adding that the threat of the new variant has already left hospital staff feeling “demoralized.”
Brown said the union, which currently represents thousands of nurses across the state, has heard from a slew of members about the dire conditions at Sparrow hospital in particular, whereA hospital spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We welcome any and all appropriate government help provided it does not serve to undercut a strike that would be seeking immediate and long-term improvements to staffing and safety,” Brown added.
Likewise, for the Grand Rapids nurse, working conditions were “almost as bad as they [were] last year, and I doubt they will get any better anytime soon.”
“Last year, we were able to justify the workload with the knowledge that mass vaccination for COVID would relieve the pressure,” she added. “It’s been almost a year of vaccines, and the pressure is greater than ever.”
Australians forced to quarantine after SIXTH case Omicron confirmed .
NSW has extended quarantine requirements for travellers and ramped up fines for anyone in breach of coronavirus rules as the new variant Omicron continues to spread in Australia. There are now five cases in NSW after a woman on the Central Coast was confirmed to be infected by the super-mutant strain Tuesday - a sixth case is also in isolation in the Northern Territory.Current measures which require Australian citizens arriving from nine African nations to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days were extended by Dominic Perrottet.