COVID-19 Tsunami: Highly transmissible Omicron sets fresh records in US, Europe
Dec 30, 2021: The highly transmissible Omicron pummeled the United States, France and Denmark to set new records on Wednesday, with 6.55 million infections reported worldwide in seven days through Tuesday.
The figures were the highest since the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic in March 2020, pointing to the rapid growth of omicron transmission, with tens of millions of people facing sanctions for the second year in a row, dampening the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreysesus said, “I am highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,”
“This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse,” he added.
The increase, which is currently the worst in Europe, is forcing governments to tighten sanctions to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, and the need to keep open economies and societies two years after the virus first appeared in late 2019. According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States, where Omicron is already overflowing with hospitals, recorded 265,427 new cases in its seven days.
According to research, Omicron, now the dominant strain in some countries, carries a reduced risk of sending those infected to hospital, but the WHO still urged caution. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 5.4 million people around the world have died from COVID-19, but over the last week the number of deaths averaged 6,450 a day
French police say every person over the age of 11 in Paris will again be required to wear a face mask from Friday, except inside cars, cyclists, two-wheeled transport, scooter users and sports participants.
France registered a new daily record of more than 200,000 cases — more than double the number recorded on Christmas Day — and extended into January the closure of nightclubs.
Denmark, which currently has one of the highest rates of infection in the world, recorded a new record of 23,228 new infections, which authorities attributed in part to a large number of tests performed after the Christmas festivities. Portugal also reported about 27,000 cases in a 24-hour period, while Lebanon also recorded a record 3,150 new infections – the highest daily number since the vaccine was introduced earlier this year.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in England has risen to over 10,000, the highest total since March, as the UK set a new record of 183,037 cases per day in the last 24 hours.
In Europe, where more than 3.5 million cases have been recorded in the last seven days, Greece banned music in bars and restaurants until January 16, including on New Year’s Eve, while Cyprus banned dancing in public places. Germany has banned sports competitions and closed nightclubs, restricting private gatherings to 10 vaccinators. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his decision not to ban New Year celebrations, saying that about 90% of coronavirus patients in intensive care units had not received a booster jab.
The mayor of Mexico City has canceled a major New Year’s Eve celebration in the capital following an increase in cases. In Ukraine, a fire in an intensive care unit in the western town of Kosovo killed three people after a hospital employee lit a candle in memory of a patient who had died of the virus.
Armed police in Jingxi, southern China, near the Vietnam border, paraded four alleged violators of Covid SOPs into the streets, state media reported. A practice which was previously banned but which has resurfaced in the struggle to enforce a zero-Covid policy.
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