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The world will celebrate the new year with the still ubiquitous COVID-19 | Coronavirus


The past twelve months have seen the arrival of a new US president, dreams of democracy fade from Afghanistan to Burma to Hong Kong, and the first spectatorless Olympics.

But it is the pandemic that has once again ruled the daily lives of most of humanity. More than 5.4 million people have died since the virus was first identified in China in December 2019.

Countless others have been infected, subjected to lockdowns, curfews and a host of tests.

The emergence of the particularly contagious Omicron variant at the end of 2021 pushed the one million daily cases of coronavirus to exceed for the first time, according to an AFP count.

France became the latest country to announce that Omicron now has a majority in its territory on Thursday evening, after a significant progress the last days.

Britain, the United States and even Australia, which had long been immune from the pandemic, are breaking records of new cases.

However, the distribution of vaccines to around 60% of the world’s population offers a glimmer of hope, although some poor countries still have limited access to them and a segment of the population remains reluctant to do so.

A man on a stepladder holds a banner that reads 2021. A COVID-19 testing kiosk can be seen behind.

The year 2021 is symbolically burned in Times Square, New York on December 28, 2021.

Photo: Getty Images / BRYAN R. SMITH

From Seoul to San Francisco, New Years celebrations have again been canceled or reduced. But those in Rio de Janeiro, which usually bring together three million people on Copacabana beach, are maintained.

As in Times Square in New York, official events will be reduced, but large crowds are still expected.

People only want one thing, to get out of their homes, to celebrate life after a pandemic that has forced everyone to lock themselves up.

A quote from Francisco Rodrigues, 45, waiter in Copacabana.

Some Brazilians are more dubious, in a country where the pandemic has killed nearly 619,000 people, the worst death toll in the world after that of the United States.

The party begins in Australia

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, also maintained its fireworks display, which will light up the city’s iconic harbor.

Unlike last year’s spectator-less event, tens of thousands of revelers are expected on the docks although, according to AFP journalists, the mood in the city was calmer after dark than normally.

Fireworks display over illuminated Sydney Harbor.

Australians celebrate the New Year with the traditional fireworks display in Sydney Harbor.

Photo: Getty Images / Wendell Teodoro

I’m just trying to focus on the positive things that happened this year rather than the negatives, observes Melinda Howard, 22, who studies medicine and waits outside the Opera House for the start of the show.

Australian officials say their sudden turnaround – abandon the strategy zero Covid for that consisting of living with the Covid – is based on high adult vaccination rates and the growing belief that Omicron is less lethal.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is still planning a fireworks display at Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world with its 828 meters, and the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah will once again try to break the world record for the largest fire in the world. ‘artifice.

In South Africa, the first country to report the new variant at the end of November, the nighttime curfew in effect for 21 months and which had been reduced to times between midnight and 4 a.m. was lifted on the eve of the celebrations. for the new Year.

Wearing a mask remains compulsory in public spaces and gatherings remain limited (1,000 people inside, 2,000 outside).

Our hope is that this lift will continue, Minister to the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, confided on Friday, the day after the official announcement that all indicators suggest that the country is likely past the peak of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

What can we expect from 2022?

During the past year, many countries, especially in the West, have hesitated to reinstate the draconian measures of 2020, in order to avoid another economic recession.

But 2021 nonetheless saw an increase in protests against the restrictions in Europe and beyond, while a minority still hesitated to be vaccinated, raising fears about how the pandemic could end without the spread of disease. vaccination rate.

Experts hope that the year 2022 will mark a new, less deadly phase of the pandemic. But the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts trying months ahead.

I am very concerned that the more transmissible Omicron circulating at the same time as Delta is causing a tsunami of cases.

A quote from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted caregivers, and health systems on the brink of collapse., he added.

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