Omicron 40 per cent deadlier than seasonal flu: Japanese study | Daily News

Omicron 40 per cent deadlier than seasonal flu: Japanese study

More than 90% of US population in areas where masks not needed: CDC

US: The omicron strain of COVID-19 is at least 40% more lethal than seasonal flu, according Japanese scientists, underscoring the potential danger of lifting pandemic curbs too quickly and underestimating the virus’s ongoing health risks.

The case fatality rate of omicron in Japan, based on cumulative excess deaths and the number of infections since January, was about 0.13%, according to an analysis by scientists who advise the country’s health minister. While that is significantly lower than the 4.25% case fatality rate from earlier in the outbreak, it’s still higher than the 0.006% to 0.09% seen with seasonal flu, they said.

Countries around the world have been relaxing mitigation measures, from mask mandates to testing requirements, and pushing for a return to normal life. The public has grown tired of restrictions and the reduced severity of omicron has reassured many that the rules are no longer essential. While Japan hasn’t formally downgraded the condition, it is easing border restrictions and quarantine periods for travelers, essential workers and close contacts of positive cases to keep the economy going.

The decline in mortality with omicron could reflect both the reduced virulence of the strain, particularly in comparison to the delta variant, and the benefits of vaccination, the researcher said. The findings show the importance of putting control measures in place before vaccines are fully distributed, they said.

Meanwhile, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday (March 3) said some 93 per cent of the US population live in locations where COVID-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks indoors.

On Friday, the CDC dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, saying they could drop them in counties experiencing what it described as low or medium COVID-19 levels.

When it announced the revised guidelines, the CDC said about 70 per cent of US counties and 72 per cent of the US population were in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended. The CDC plans to update its county ratings weekly.

The agency said on Thursday that 85.4 per cent of counties now rank as low or medium risk and 92.9 per cent of the population lives in those counties.

- BLOOMBERG, THE STRAITS TIMES 


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