The world on Saturday celebrated the transition to 2022, often with restricted celebrations, against the backdrop of an explosion in Covid contamination, and mourning in India where 12 people died in mob agitation during traditional New Year’s prayers.
According to AFP calculations, the symbolic milestone of one million daily cases of coronavirus in the world was crossed in the last hours of the year 2021, after the emergence of the Omicron variant, which is particularly contagious. Officially, more than 5.4 million people have died since the virus was first identified in China in December 2019.
Great Britain, the United States and even Australia, long protected from pandemics, are breaking records of new cases.
And France in turn announced on Thursday that Omicron now has a majority in its territory. However, in his best wishes for the nation, French President Emmanuel Macron declared himself “absolutely optimistic”, wishing that 2022 would also be the “year of exit from the pandemic”.
The island of Kiribati in the Pacific was the first to celebrate the new year from 10:00 GMT on Friday. In Indian Kashmir, a stampede broke out at 2:45 a.m. local time (9:15 p.m. GMT), leaving at least 12 people dead and thirteen injured at Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, one of North India’s busiest Hindu temples. Have become.
“The toll could be higher as the road leading to the temple, located on top of a hill, was crowded with devotees trying to reach there during traditional New Year’s prayers,” a representative of the authorities said.
From Seoul to Mexico City and San Francisco, many festivals have been canceled or severely banned once again. In Paris, where the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled, thousands of tourists and spectators – far fewer than before the pandemic – strolled along the tree-lined Avenue des Champs Elysees, where police wore masks. Controlled, again mandatory.
“Everything is closed in the Netherlands, so it is better here. I’m going to stay until midnight, look at the lights, then we really don’t know,” explains Koen, a 22-year-old Dutch tourist who came to Paris with his girlfriend on Christmas Eve.
The traditional gathering at Puerta del Sol, in the center of Madrid, brought about 7,000 people together to the sound of the twelve strokes of midnight to swallow grapes.
“It’s cool, I like it”
In Sydney, a city commonly claimed to be the ‘New Year’s Capital of the World’, crowds at the port to watch the traditional fireworks display were unusually low.
In Dubai (United Arab Emirates), 36 fireworks at 29 sites set the city on fire. People gathered in the evening to see the view of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
In Brazil, the worst-hit by the pandemic after the United States, Rio de Janeiro has downsized for its celebrations, which attract three million tourists annually to the famous Copacabana beach. This year, concerts were canceled, access to the neighborhood was restricted, and tropical summer rains invited themselves.
On Friday, three hours before 2022 was entered and a 16-minute fireworks display over the bay, only a limited number of fun-loving people – mostly dressed in white as is tradition – had responded.
“I expected to see a lot more people, it would be stressful,” 28-year-old Colombian tourist Alejandra Luna told AFP, “but it’s calm, I like it.”
In New York, ravens began gathering Friday nights in the iconic Times Square in the heart of Manhattan to watch the countdown just before midnight and release the ball and confetti that mark the new year’s entry. Is.
Mayor Bill de Blasio promised the party would take place but with only 15,000 people in Times Square instead of 60,000, all masked and vaccinated.
Like some African-Americans who came exclusively from Memphis (Tennessee): “It’s our dream to drop the ball and we were vaccinated for that”, admits the AFPTV crooner Spokes.
US President Joe Biden called for unity in a video message on Friday: “As we move into the new year, I am more optimistic than ever about America’s future (…) We have faced it, we have turned it into an opportunity to become a stronger and better nation”.
As we move into 2022, I want people to remember: There is not one thing America cannot do together. pic.twitter.com/F7PouSXnLi
President Biden (@POTUS) December 31, 2021
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin referred to the Covid pandemic in his televised greeting, without citing the figure of more than 600,000 dead set up a day earlier by the National Statistics Agency – more than double the figure communicated by the government – which ranks the country as the most Lets the world grieve.
Experts expect the year 2022 to mark a new, less lethal phase of the pandemic.
The distribution of vaccines to about 60% of the world’s population offers a glimmer of hope, although some poor countries still have limited access and a segment of the population is reluctant to do so.
But the World Health Organization expects to try months ahead; Its leader, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is saying that he fears Omicron “causes a more permeable, circulating at the same time as the delta, a tsunami of cases”.
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