Omicron takes Europe: contagion surge, 180 thousand in France

Omicron takes Europe: contagion surge, 180 thousand in France

Holly Adams via Getty Images

A shopkeeper wearing a facemask to combat the spread of COVID-19 walks along Oxford Street in London on December 28, 2021. (Photo by Holly Adams/AFP) (Photo by Holly Adams/AFP via Getty Images)

Two or three times more contagious than the delta version, but less serious, omicron is rampant in Europe, at least according to the most recent studies conducted by Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh. And it manages to evade vaccines, infecting even immunocompromised people.

Record cases have been reported in several countries in Europe in the first days after the Christmas holidays, such as France with 180,000 infections in the past 24 hours and England with nearly 130,000 infections. Portugal also reports record infections, despite a high percentage of the vaccinated population, and Italy, which has reached 78 thousand cases per day, never since the start of the pandemic.

Scandinavia is one of the European regions experiencing a rapid increase in infections. In fact, Denmark records the highest rate of infection in the world: 1,612 out of 100,000 residents are positive for Covid. And Finland, after a lightning-fast meeting of the government, has decided to run for cover by banning people from entering the country, with few exceptions.


France reported a record 179,807 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The previous record of 104,611 was set on Saturday.

The country has announced new anti-Covid measures in an effort to contain the increase in infections. From January 3, 2022, it will be mandatory for those working from home at least three days a week, while public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people.

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The UK reported a record 129,471 new cases, following the words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said he had no new restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus.

The figure is the highest ever recorded, and is up from the 98,515 cases reported yesterday. The previous record for daily infections was 122,186 as of December 24, 2021.

The data is not complete as it does not include figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland due to differences in reporting practices during the Christmas holidays. The 12,378 cases reported for Wales includes data that would have normally been reported in the previous day. So the actual figures are likely to be higher.


Denmark has the highest rate of Covid infection in the world, with 1,612 cases per 100,000 people. The country of 5.8 million people recorded a new record for daily infections on Monday and now has the highest number of incidents on record. The new daily cases stood at 16,164 for the first time on 130,686 PCR tests, giving a positivity rate of 12.4%.

Since last week, the Omicron variant has been the dominant form of the virus in the country. According to our world numbers in data, Denmark also ranks among the countries with the most tests per resident.


Portugal recorded a record 17,172 new cases in the last 24 hours, beating the previous high of 16,432 recorded at the end of January 2021.

With about 87% of its 10 million residents vaccinated and about 2.4 million people receiving the third dose, Portugal has one of the highest COVID vaccination rates in the world. Despite this, official figures show that the omicron variant accounts for 61.5% of all new cases in the country.

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Inspired by the Omicron version, cases in Spain have surged over the past month, pushing the nationwide 14-day tally to a record 1,206 cases per 100,000 people on Monday, a five-fold increase since early December.

Updating the Covid figures after a gap of four days, the country’s health authorities reported 214,619 new cases and 120 deaths since Monday evening.

The government re-introduced a mandate for outdoor face masks last week, but has yet to attempt to reimpose tough national restrictions. However, regional administrations, which are responsible for implementing their own health policy, have introduced measures in Catalonia ranging from a one-night curfew to limits on social gatherings and bar opening hours.


Greece today reported a new daily record of 21,657 Covid cases, more than double the day before, from a record 9,284 cases already on Monday. In turn, the figure was more than double that of Sunday, 4,036.


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