With the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreading rapidly across the world, several countries are considering reimposing restrictions to curb the transmission of the disease, reports said.

In the United Kingdom, plans are being drawn up for a two-week “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of Omicron, The Times reported. Under the new policy, restrictions might be imposed on indoor meetings.

However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not yet approved the plan, and said on Friday that he was “not closing things down”.

The Netherlands is likely to announce a Christmas lockdown on Saturday, Reuters reported citing local media. The Dutch government will hold a meeting on Saturday with health experts, who have called for closing non-essential shops, schools, bars and restaurants.

On Tuesday, the government had extended an order to close bars, restaurants and most shops between 5 pm and 5 am till January 14.

In South Korea, new restrictions on businesses and tightening of social distancing norms came into effect on Saturday, Al Jazeera reported. Under the new regulations, a maximum of four vaccinated people are allowed to gather. Bars, restaurants and cafes have been asked to be shut by 9 pm, and movie theatres and internet cafes have to be shut by 10 pm.

Surge in Covid-19 cases

Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, are witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases.

Cases of the Omicron variant have been reported in 38 states of the US till now, according to CBS News. New York officials told the channel that the city was now reporting over 8,000 new Covid-19 cases every day.

Covid-19 cases that required hospitalisation in the US rose by 45% over the last month, according to Reuters. Over the last one week, the country has recorded 1,23,000 cases on an average everyday. This marked a jump of 40% since last week.

Meanwhile for the third straight day on Saturday, Australia topped its highest single-day tally of cases, according to Reuters. The states of New South Wales and Victoria reported 2,482 and 1,504 new cases respectively, while Queensland reported 31 infections on Saturday.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the focus should be on hospitalisations and patients in intensive care units, rather than number of infections. He added that rising cases in New South Wales were not leading to pressure on hospitals.

Meanwhile, South Africa is reporting a much lower rate of hospital admissions during the Omicron wave, as compared to the earlier surge driven by Delta strain, Bloomberg reported. In the second week of the fourth wave, only 1.7% of Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals, compared to 19% in the second week of the third wave, the country’s health minister Joe Phaala said.

Till Saturday, Covid-19 has infected over 27.36 crore people and caused 53.44 lakh deaths globally, according to the Johns Hopkins University.