The extreme contagiousness of the Omicron variant could lead to a “disorganization” of many sectors in January (supermarkets, transport, hospital, school…) because of an increase in work stoppages and “absenteeism”, warned Thursday the Scientific Council.
According to this body which advises the government, it could become necessary to lighten the isolation rules in order to limit this disorganization, taking into account the fact that Omicron seems to cause less severe forms of Covid-19.
A “possible disorganization” of “essential services” in January
We must expect “a possible disorganization of a number of essential services” in January, because of “absenteeism” and “work stoppages” due to “the very large number of contaminations at Omicron”, a warned the President of the Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy, during an online press point.
The “dazzling” transmission of Omicron could result in January by “several hundred thousand” cases per day, added another member of the Council, Olivier Guérin. This will “pose problems in the strategic sectors of our society’s functioning: food distribution, security, energy, transport, communications and health,” he continued.
“Adjustments to be made according to the severity of the clinical forms”
According to Professor Guérin, “this requires thinking” about the current “eviction rules” (up to 17 days for a contact case). “This is really new data that we did not have on the other waves, and which is linked to the speed of propagation of Omicron”, he added, estimating that “it is an essential subject “.
“There will be adjustments to be made which will take into account the severity of the clinical forms” of the disease caused by Omicron, added another member of the Board, Professor Arnaud Fontanet. According to him, these adjustments could also depend on the level of contagiousness of the person at such or such moment, determined by tests, as well as of the “nature of the functions” that it occupies.
These possible “relaxations” will have to be accompanied “by a strengthening of barrier gestures”, said Professor Fontanet. “This is a question that will affect the whole of society” and “we must expect that in January, we operate in degraded mode”, he said, also mentioning the school .
A mathematical increase in hospitalizations
According to first preliminary studies from South Africa, Scotland and England, the Omicron variant appears to cause fewer hospitalizations than Delta.
But at the same time, it is much more contagious, which could therefore mathematically cause an increase in the number of hospitalized patients, especially the unvaccinated and the frail.