Happy new year in advance everyone

The world began Friday with the inauguration of 2022 after another turbulent and pandemic-plagued year, limited by new restrictions, a growing number of cases and a slight ray of hope for better times.

The first spectatorless Olympics and dreams of democracy from Afghanistan to Myanmar to Hong Kong are being crushed by authoritarian regimes.

But it was the pandemic, now entering its third year, that once again dominated most people’s lives. More than 5.4 million people have died since the coronavirus was first reported in central China in December 2019, and many more have fallen ill, exposed to outbreaks, bans, bans, and an alphabetical spaghetti of PCR tests. , LFT and RAT.

The year 2021 began with hope when life-saving vaccines were used by about 60 percent of the world’s population, although many of its poor still have limited access and some of the rich believe the coups are part of an unclear plot.

When it came to an end, the appearance of the Omicron variant caused the number of new cases of Covid-19 to rise to more than one million for the first time, according to an AFP balance.

France became the latest country to announce on Friday that Omicron is now its dominant strain of coronavirus. In the UK, US and even Australia, a long-standing haven from the pandemic, the variant’s prominence is spawning record new cases.

Parts of the Pacific nation of Kiribati were the first to ring in the New Year starting at 1000 GMT.

In San Francisco, the holidays have been canceled or reduced again as infections rise.

However, a notable exception was South Africa, which was the first country to report Omicron in November, where the curfew was lifted to allow the holidays.

Health officials said a drop in infections over the past week shows that the current wave has peaked, primarily without a significant increase in deaths. Sydney, Australia’s largest city, has also opted for fireworks that will light up the city, the harbor, despite being one of the fastest growing cases in the world.

The country’s conservative government says its decision to abandon a “Covidzero” approach was based on vaccination rates and mounting evidence that Omicron is less lethal.

Tens of thousands of night owls were expected to populate Sydney’s beach, although AFP journalists said the city was quieter than normal after dark.

“I’m just trying to focus on the positive things that happened this year instead of thinking about all the bad things that happened,” said Melinda, a 22-year-old medical student.

Howard, part of an enthusiastic but smaller than usual crowd waiting at the Opera for the show to begin.

Despite numerous infections in the UAE, Dubai is planning fireworks at the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world.

Meanwhile, the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is trying to break two world records with huge fireworks.

“Just a wish” In Rio, the celebrations on Copacabana beach will take place in a reduced format, although many night owls are still expected.

“People only have one desire to get out of the house, to celebrate life,” said Francisco Rodrigues, a 45-year-old waiter on Copacabana beach.

Some Brazilians are more careful, like Roberta Assis, a 27-year-old lawyer. “This is not the time for big gatherings,” he said. Seoul authorities are showing similar caution and instead forbidding spectators to ring the traditional midnight bell.

In India, fearing a repeat of the devastating spike of the virus that hit the country in April and May, cities and states have imposed assembly restrictions and Delhi put a curfew at 10 p.m. Mumbai police banned people visit public places at night. such as city beaches and boardwalks, which are often popular New Year attractions, with two-week restrictions.

The health organization warned of tough times, saying Omicron could lead to “a tsunami of cases.” “This … will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted healthcare workers and healthcare systems that are on the brink of collapse,” said the WHO chief. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

But the restrictions have again led to frequent, loud and sometimes violent protests against the blockade, vaccines and the government. Experts and non-experts alike hope that 2022 will be remembered as the new, less deadly phase of the pandemic.

“Be better for everyone,” said Oscar Ramirez, a 31-year-old night owl from Sydney. “Everyone in the world needs a big change.

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