How far can Omicron go?

We thought we were through the worst of the pandemic, and we still might be, but as I write this, the uncertainty surrounding the possible severity and contagion associated with the recently discovered Omicron variant is incredibly worrying.

On a rather minor level, we’ve decided to postpone (once again) a family holiday to France because of a host of reasons, including a need to be privately PCR tested before, during and on return from travel. For a family of five, this would have added several hundred pounds to the cost of travel.

Add into this mix the continuing uncertainty over other travel restrictions, and the concern that any given country could once again be put on a red list by the UK government.

Not surprisingly, we decided that, for the time being, travel plans simply aren’t worth the risk, and we’ll stay in Blighty.

You might say who cares? And you’d be right! The inability of a family of five to go overseas on holiday is neither here nor there in the big picture.

But you can be sure that if we are making this decision, then so are others. And the ramifications of this caution for the already beleaguered travel, leisure & hospitality sectors will potentially be huge.

At a time when the global economy was finally starting to emerge, blinking, from the dark cave of COVD, it now seems that dark storm-clouds are re-emerging and we are having to hunker down once again in our protective habitats.

Such caution is being replicated by the economic soothsayers.

As we report this week, global economic growth projections from the International Monetary Fund will likely be downgraded due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, according to IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva.

“A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence, and in that sense, we are likely to see some downgrades of our October projections for global growth,” Georgieva said.

The IMF had said in October it expected the global economy to grow 5.9% this year and 4.9% next year, pointing then to the threat of new coronavirus variants as increasing uncertainty about the timeline for overcoming the pandemic.

Too gloomy only a couple of weeks before Christmas? Well, Santa might yet pull something out of his sack: this is all speculation so far. Maybe, just maybe, the dreaded Omicron variant won’t turn out to be as vicious as we had feared…

Marcus Alcock,

Editor, Emerging Risks

Follow us on twitter: @risksEmerging

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