European travel map now completely red as Omicron continues to spread

European travel map now completely red as Omicron continues to spread
Credit: Belga

All European countries have now turned red or dark red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Covid-19 travel map, as the situation has also deteriorated in the last orange and green regions.

Belgium, which recently recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, is still completely coloured dark red, which has been the case since the start of November 2021.

Romania, previously the only country not to be entirely red, is now also coded a dark red. In the last 24 hours, the country recorded almost 10,000 new Covid-19 cases, up from some 4,700 just four days ago.

The ECDC publishes its European map every Thursday based on the number of infections and the percentage of positive tests over the past 14 days. The map has four colours, green, orange, red and dark red, which reflect the epidemiological situation in each region.

A country or region colours dark red if the coronavirus incidence rate (number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants) over the past 14 days is 500 or more. According to the latest update from the Sciensano Health Institute, this figure was 2,064 in Belgium.

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Meanwhile, Romania, most of Poland and eastern Hungary are still coloured red. This either means that the incidence over the last 14 days is between 75 and 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; or that the incidence is more than 200 but less than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Omicron hanging over Europe

Europe is facing a new wave of infections, caused by the Omicron variant. Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that more than 50% of Europeans could be affected by this variant in the next six to eight weeks, given the current rate of infection.

“50 of the 53 countries in Europe and central Asia have now reported cases of Omicron. It is quickly becoming the dominant virus in western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans,” Hans Kluge, Europe’s Regional Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said.

According to the latest ECDC update, an epidemiological situation of high or very high concern is being observed in all but two EU/EEA Member States.

“This situation is largely driven by the continued circulation of the Delta variant and rapidly increasing spread of the Omicron variant in many countries,” a statement read.

Preliminary sampling of cases in Belgium showed that 97.8% of all infections are now with the Omicron variant, the highest rate among all countries. However, other countries may be less effective in sampling and sequencing cases.

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