Omicron spreads global gloom over New Year’s celebrations

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 (AP) — After struggling with the coronavirus for far too long, the world understands all too well Belgium’s word of the year, “knaldrang!” — the urge to party, the need to let loose. Yet as New Year celebrations approach, the omicron variant is casting more gloom.

Monday was a case in point, with several governments considering more restrictions to add to a patchwork of measures and lockdowns already in place around Europe.

The French government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were assessing the latest data and the need to counter the record numbers of COVID-19 infections with more measures to keep people apart at a time when they so dearly want to be together.

But with indications that omicron might be a milder variant despite its massive transmissibility, politicians were caught in a bind whether to further spoil yet another party or play safe to make sure health care systems don’t collapse.

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