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France’s Macron To ‘Hassle’ The Unvaccinated; UK PM Johnson To Not Impose Lockdown

As nations gear up to fight the Omicron variant, world leaders continue to urge citizens to adhere to Covid-19 protocols and ensure that they do their bit to curb the spread of coronavirus. The rising number of cases due to the Omicron variant once again put the spotlight on world leaders for whom curbing the pandemic has been the top priority for the most part of the last two years.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who is also up for a reelection, said he aims to get on the nerves of the ‘unvaccinated’, sending out a message to anti-vaxxers and people protesting Covid restrictions. “As for the non-vaccinated, I really want to hassle them. And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy,” Macron said in an interview to French press agency Le Parisien.

France recorded at least 270,000 new cases on Tuesday and reported 351 fresh fatalities.

Macron also said that his plans for the unvaccinated are aimed at ensuring that their social lives and activities remain limited until they are vaccinated. The Macron-led Republic on the Move (LREM) is debating with the introduction of a vaccine pass with the French opposition. The French vaccine pass will require people to carry a vaccine pass with which they will be able to eat out or travel by intercity trains and attend events, a move which has been criticised by Macron’s opponents.

“We can encourage vaccination without insulting anyone or pushing them to radicalisation,” Bruno Retailleau, head of the right-wing Republicans in the French senate was quoted as saying by news agency AFP. He pointed out that no health emergency justifies such language.

Johnson rules out possibility of lockdown

The UK, which saw hospitalizations soar due to Omicron, will not impose fresh restrictions. UK prime minister Boris Johnson expressed hope that the UK will ‘ride out the Omicron wave’, news agency BBC reported.

“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus. (We can) ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again,” Johnson was quoted as saying by news agency BBC.

“Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over, I’m afraid, is profoundly wrong. This is a moment for the utmost caution,” he further added. The UK reported 218,724 new cases on Tuesday and added 48 deaths to its rising death toll. Johnson, however, defended his decision to impose relaxed restrictions during Christmas and said that Omicron is different as it is ‘milder than previous variants’ and boosters have also been rolled out to tackle the rise in cases.

Morrison says no to free tests

Australia, which posted a record number of cases on Wednesday, resisted calls to make antigen tests free. The nation which saw less number of cases compared to the rest of the world for the better part of the ongoing pandemic registered more than 60,000 new cases on Wednesday, registering a spike of 10,000 fresh cases compared to Tuesday. Morrison said the Australians will have to live with the virus and his government cannot make ‘everything free’ while responding to calls of free antigen tests.

“We are at another stage of this pandemic now where we just cannot go round and make everything free. We have to live with this virus,” Morrison was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

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