BRUSSELS, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — Following a break over the holiday season, European countries are witnessing skyrocketing new COVID-19 infections as the Omicron variant continues its onslaught across the continent.

SURGING NUMBERS

France, Greece and Croatia have broken new COVID-19 case records while the two neighboring countries of the Netherlands and Belgium have seen infection rates hiking significantly by 35 percent and 79 percent respectively. In Greece, despite a tightening of measures during the holiday season, cases have skyrocketed. The National Public Health Organization (EODY) confirmed on Tuesday 50,126 infections within 24 hours, an all-time high. Greek experts expect the number to continue rising this month, with daily cases possibly reaching 80,000 in the coming days. In Hungary, official data on Wednesday showed 5,270 new infections in a 24-hour span, more than doubling the figures recorded in the previous few weeks.

Reportedly in a “community spreading” phase, Finland reported 38,700 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, compared to 19,600 new cases in the previous week. Despite vaccination campaigns and anti-pandemic measures including closures and lockdowns, the peak of new infections has yet to come in some European countries, experts say. “The peak of the pandemic has not been seen in Finland as of yet,” said Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, senior expert at the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Dutch experts think that the peak will arrive at the end of January. “But it is not clear how high that peak will be,” said Dutch epidemiologist Susan van den Hof.