G7 countries warn Omicron ‘biggest threat to global public health’ – POLITICO Europe

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Ministers raise concern over coronavirus variant as it spreads across Europe and other regions.
LONDON — Health ministers from the world’s seven richest democracies agreed Thursday that the Omicron coronavirus variant that is surging across Europe and other parts of the world is the “biggest threat to global public health.”
Working together and sharing information will be “crucial” in responding to the rapidly growing Omicron wave, G7 health ministers agreed in the final meeting of the U.K.’s G7 presidency.
The U.K. recorded more than 88,000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, with Omicron cases driving the surge. The country has now registered more than 49,000 cases of Omicron total, while in Denmark, a country with a population of around 6 million and another Omicron hotspot, more than 9,000 Omicron cases have now been recorded.
EU countries are facing a wave from both the Delta and Omicron variants, as they head into the winter holidays. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control this week also warned that the overall risk Omicron poses to public health in Europe is “very high.”
The G7 ministers — representing the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan as well as the U.K. — underscored the importance of equitable access to diagnostics, genome sequencing, vaccines and therapeutics to monitor and counter the threat from the variant, according to a U.K. government statement.
They also noted the importance of social and public health measures to try to curb the spread of infection.
In addition, they reiterated their support for the COVAX initiative for vaccine access and their commitment to the global effort on vaccine rollout — both of which have been hampered by hurdles at every step in the supply chain.
The U.K. now hands the G7 presidency to Germany, where new Health Minister Karl Lauterbach will host the next health ministers’ meeting.
The French government rolled out new restrictions in an effort to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
New coalitions could help Europe make advancements on old problems.
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