Economy

Omicron threat: Covid’s global surge raises testing, quarantine alarm

Global Covid-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, the data showed on Wednesday, as the new Omicron variant raced out of control, keeping workers at home and overwhelming testing centres.Almost 900,000 cases were detected on average each day around the world between December 22-28, and the tally held over one million for the second day, with myriad countries posting new all-time highs over the past 24 hours, including the United States, Australia and many European nations.World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants of coronaviruswas creating a “tsunami of cases”.France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta all registered a record number of new cases on Tuesday, while the average number of daily Covid-19 cases in the United States hit a record 265,427 over the past seven days, according to Bloomberg, on Wednesday.

The previous peak was a figure of 251,085 registered in early January, this year.chartBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that 90 per cent of patients ending up in intensive care had not received booster vaccines, which medics say is the best protection against the infectious Omicron.“The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems, you’re seeing cases rising in hospitals, but it is obviously milder than the Delta variant,” Johnson said.New daily infections in Australia spiked to nearly 18,300 on Wednesday, eclipsing the previous pandemic high of around 11,300 hit a day earlier. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country needed “a gear change” to manage overburdened laboratories, with long walk-in and drive-in queues.Testing bottlenecks have also built in European nations, including Spain where demand for free Covid-19 testing kits provided by Madrid’s regional government far outstripped, with long queues forming outside pharmacies.Italy was expected to relax some of its quarantine rules on Wednesday over fears the country will soon grind to a halt given how many people are having to self-isolate protectively, with cases doubling on Tuesday from a day earlier to 78,313.However, China showed no let up in its policy of zero tolerance to outbreaks, keeping 13 million people in the city of Xian under rigid lockdown for a seventh day as new Covid-19 infections persisted, with 151 cases reported on Tuesday.

Virus Wildfire

  • France logs record 180,000 Covid cases, extends curbs for 3 weeks
  • Nearly 130,000 Covid cases recorded in UK
  • London hospital admissions rise by 53%
  • Walk-in PCR tests unavailable in England and Northern Ireland
  • 2,800 flights cancelled on Tuesday, over 8,000 others delayed
  • For Omicron, rapid Covid tests not as accurate: US FDA
  • US cuts estimate for Omicron prevalence to just over half of Covid cases

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