Daily COVID-19 infections have reached record levels in the United States, across swathes of Europe and Australia as the new Omicron variant of the virus spirals out of control, keeping workers at home and overwhelming health centers. test.
Almost two years after China first reported a cluster of ‘viral pneumonia’ cases in the city of Wuhan, the steadily mutating coronavirus is wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, forcing governments to rethink quarantine and testing rules.
Although some studies have suggested that the Omicron variant is less lethal than some of its predecessors, the large number of people who test positive means hospitals in some countries may soon be overwhelmed, while businesses may struggle to keep operating. due to the quarantine of workers.
France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta all had record numbers of new cases on Tuesday.
The average daily number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has also reached an all-time high in the past seven days, according to a Reuters tally. The previous peak was in January of this year.
New daily infections in Australia reached nearly 18,300, eclipsing the previous pandemic record of around 11,300 reached a day earlier on Wednesday. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said his country needs a “shift in gears” to deal with overcrowded labs, with long queues for people walking and driving reported in a number of areas. Testing bottlenecks also created in European countries, including Spain, where demand for free COVID-19 test kits provided by the Madrid regional government far exceeded supply on Tuesday, with long queues forming in front of pharmacies.
“I JUST WANT TO GO HOME”
A number of governments were also increasingly concerned about the large number of people being forced into self-isolation because they had been in contact with someone with coronavirus.
“We just can’t take everyone off the road because they happen to be in a particular place at a particular time,” Australian Morrison told reporters.
Italy was due to relax some of its quarantine rules on Wednesday over fears the country would shut down soon given the number of people needing to self-isolate protectively, with cases doubling Tuesday from a day earlier to 78,313.
However, China has shown no slack in its policy of zero tolerance to outbreaks, now 13 million people in Xian city under strict lockdown for a seventh day as new COVID-19 infections persisted, with 151 cases reported on Tuesday. want to go home, ”said a 32-year-old mechanic, who was in Xian last week on a business trip when the city was effectively cut off from the outside world. No case of Omicron has been reported in Xian so far.
Many countries are still grappling with the earlier Delta variant, including Poland, which on Wednesday reported 794 COVID-related deaths – the highest number in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said more than 75% of those who died were not vaccinated.
Early data from Britain, South Africa and Denmark suggests there is a reduced risk of hospitalization for the Omicron compared to the Delta variant, the World Health Organization has said ( WHO) in its last epidemiological report published overnight.
However, the report says more data is needed to understand how the severity of the disease may be affected by vaccination and, or, previous infection.
The increase in cases coincides with the New Year holidays, normally a period of holidays and travel. Some countries, like Italy, have canceled public celebrations, while Japanese authorities have urged residents to limit year-end gatherings. the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a leading health advisor to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.