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Omicron is too fierce, and Europe issues stricter mask orders
Time:Feb 16, 2022

Before Christmas last year, the Italian government announced the implementation of a mandatory mask order, requiring people to wear masks outdoors, and to wear FFP2 standard masks when entering indoor places such as theaters, stadiums, and public transportation.

The Italian government's Ministry of Health has reached an agreement with the Italian major pharmacy alliance, and pharmacies will implement an official uniform price of no more than 0.75 euros when selling FFP2 face masks.

However, according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, in some small Italian cities and airport pharmacies, the price of FFP2 masks is as high as 1.8 to 2 euros each. There are also pharmacies that only adhere to the official selling price when selling in large quantities. The person in charge of a pharmacy said in an interview with the media that the recent surge in customer demand for masks and the increase in the cost of pharmacy purchases.

In other parts of Europe, outbreaks due to the accelerated spread of the Omicron strain are also continuing. In the face of the surging epidemic, governments in many countries have tightened prevention and control measures. Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Austria, etc. have all implemented stricter mask orders in some regions or the whole country, hoping to use this effective means to reduce the impact of the epidemic on social and economic life in addition to the new crown vaccination.

When asked whether mandatory wearing of masks outdoors could help prevent and control the epidemic, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez replied: "Of course it helps. This is not what I said, it is scientifically proven."

Nino Catabellota, chairman of the Italian GIMBE Medical Foundation, said the UK's experience showed the need to strengthen the mask order.

After the UK fully relaxed its epidemic prevention measures in July 2021, the number of newly confirmed cases in the country in a single day has remained high. Since the emergence of the mutated new coronavirus Omicron strain, the number of new confirmed cases in the UK in a single day has continued to soar, setting new records for many times since the epidemic.

Catabellota said that after the British government eased epidemic prevention restrictions, the use of masks dropped significantly. "Although the United Kingdom is one of the first countries in the world to start vaccination, its current epidemic situation shows that vaccines alone are not enough to deal with the epidemic. ".

Maria van Kerckhofer, technical director of the WHO health emergency program, also reminded recently that the Omicron strain is unlikely to be the last mutant strain. Although there is evidence that the Omicron strain is less severe, that doesn't mean it's mild. She called on the public to continue to observe social distancing, wearing masks, and improving ventilation while vaccinating.

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