State of Emergency likely to be lifted despite Omicron, but residents encouraged to get booster shots

Since the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is proving to be less of a threat than the Delta strain, Prime Minister Gaston Browne says  his Administration will honour its policy decision, made a few weeks ago, to remove the curfew and the State of Emergency (SOE) by December 24.

On Saturday, December 11, Browne noted that the Omicron appears to be much milder, and this has resulted in fewer hospitalizations and deaths, he says.

Accordingly, this Thursday, December 16, the Parliament will convene and the SOE and curfew are likely to be removed. 

However, if, by then, the data have shown a change in the analysis, and the Omicron proves to be a more significant threat, there could be a need to continue with the current measures, Browne warns.

He says the Government is seeking to return to normalcy.  But having only 60 percent of the population vaccinated is not enough, he admits, and at least 10,000 more people need to be inoculated.

Browne is therefore urging residents to be vaccinated as soon as possible, before things go back to normal, since the Omicron variant does have higher  transmissibility than the Delta.

Meanwhile, as the country gets set to roll out its booster shots, Browne says  it is vital that residents avail themselves of this jab, since the efficacy of the first two doses wanes after six months.

Further, reflecting a change of policy, he says that – commencing this week – everyone will be eligible to take the jab for a third time.

Browne says there are sufficient vaccines in stock to meet the demand for the booster shots.

Reportedly, Cabinet members received their boosters last Wednesday, December 8, before their weekly sitting.