Most Christians around the world celebrated their second Christmas from COVID-19 when rising infections in many countries overwhelmed hospitals, canceled flights and halted religious observances on Saturday.
While some countries in Asia imposed restrictions to try to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant, governments in Europe and elsewhere preached common sense despite reporting record daily cases this week, advising their citizens to wear masks and voluntarily limit the use of masks. size of festive gatherings.
The head of intensive care at a hospital in Marseille, France, said that most COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated, while his staff members are exhausted or unable to work because they are infected.
“We are fed up with this,” said Dr. Julien Carvelli, head of the ICU at La Timone Hospital in Marseille, as his team spent another Christmas Eve treating COVID-19 patients on ventilators. “We are afraid of not having enough space.”
Thousands of people in England received a booster shot for Christmas when new cases in Britain hit another daily record of 122,186.
Dr. Emily Lawson, director of the National Health Service vaccination program, thanked the volunteers for being present during the vacation.
Pope Francis used his Christmas address to pray for some of those vaccines to reach the poorest countries.
While rich countries have inoculated up to 90 percent of their adult population, 8.9 percent of Africa’s population is completely punctured, making it the least vaccinated continent in the world.
“Give health to the sick and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best possible ways to overcome the current health crisis and its effects,” said Francis from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care, and vaccines in particular, are provided to the people who need them most.”
At a reception center for asylum seekers in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, Patricia Etoh, a Catholic from Cameroon, said she had no special plans because it just didn’t feel like Christmas without her 6-year-old son, whom she had to leave behind.
But he added, “we are grateful, we are alive and when we are alive, there is hope.”
On the other side of the world, hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines, Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation, spent Christmas without a home, electricity, or adequate food and water after a powerful typhoon killed at least 375 people a week. past and mostly devastated. provinces of the central island.
Governor Arthur Yap of Bohol province, where more than 100 people were killed in the typhoon and some 150,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, called on foreign aid agencies to help provide temporary shelters and water filtration systems to supplement the help from the Philippine government.
“There is overwhelming fear. No presents, no Christmas Eve dinners. Today there is none of that, ”Yap said.
Yap stated that he was happy that many Filipinos were able to celebrate Christmas more safely after the COVID-19 cases were dropped, but pleaded, “Please don’t forget us.”
In South Korea, social distancing rules required churches to limit worshipers to 70 percent of seating capacity, and service goers had to be fully vaccinated.
South Korea has been grappling with rising infections and deaths since significantly easing its virus controls in early November as part of efforts to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
The country was eventually forced to restore its stricter distancing guidelines, including a four-person limit on social gatherings and a 9 p.m. curfew for restaurants and cafes.
Australia also had a Christmas with a surge in COVID-19 cases, the worst in the pandemic, forcing states to reinstate mandates for masks and other measures.
Christmas celebrations were moderate in much of India, with more decorations than crowds.
Authorities reinstated night curfews and restrictions on gatherings of more than five people in big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. People attended midnight mass in Mumbai and elsewhere, but in smaller numbers.
As the pandemic spread across the world for the past two years, New Zealand used its isolation to its advantage.
Border controls kept the worst of the virus at bay. By this Christmas, New Zealand had recorded 50 deaths out of a population of 5.5 million.
New Zealanders enjoyed vacationing in the heat of summer with few restrictions.
His country has one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, and 95 percent of adults have received at least one dose. The country is also one of the few that has largely been unaffected by omicron.
But that success has come at a cost.
There were empty chairs at some family tables this Christmas season because some New Zealanders living and working abroad were unable to return home due to isolation and quarantine requirements.
In Fiji, many in the deeply religious nation will celebrate Christmas in traditional church services and family gatherings.
The Pacific island has an ongoing outbreak and a pandemic death toll of nearly 700, but 92% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.
Health Secretary James Fong in a Christmas message urged Fijians to “celebrate wisely.”
In the remote province of Macuata, residents of four villages received a special Christmas gift: electricity was connected to their villages for the first time.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism