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Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Face Masks Become Mandatory in Paris Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

© REUTERS / CHRISTIAN HARTMANNPeople, wearing protective face masks, walk on the Mouffetard street, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Paris, France, December 30, 2021
People, wearing protective face masks, walk on the Mouffetard street, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Paris, France, December 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
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PARIS (Sputnik) – People in Paris are required to wear face masks starting Friday as the French capital registers a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections, the city police prefecture said.
"Starting from Friday, December 31, the wearing of masks will be mandatory in public places [indoors and outdoors] in Paris, except for the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes", the prefecture said.
The measure applies to citizens aged over 11, excluding those traveling by private transport, bicycle, or are working out. The fine for non-compliance with the requirement amounts to 135 euros ($152).
Paris has reached the threshold of 2,000 new infections per 100,000 residents, the surge driven by the spread of the Omicron strain.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a set of new restrictions in the face of the active spread of the new variant, including mandatory mask-wearing in city centers, limits of 2,000 people in indoor gatherings and 5,000 outdoors, the reduction of waiting time for booster vaccine shots from four to three months, partial remote working, and others. The measures will go into effect on 3 January.
To date, France has confirmed over 9.8 million coronavirus cases, with 206,243 fresh infections registered over the past day, and more than 120,000 related fatalities.
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