World hits record daily Covid-19 cases as Omicron mars Christmas
- The highly-mutated and most transmissible variant yet, Omicron is fast becoming the dominant strain globally as it evades immunity normally provided by vaccines and previous infections.
Global Covid-19 cases hit a daily record on Monday, disrupting the holiday season a year after vaccines first started rolling out and two years after the emergence of the virus that many hoped would be fleeting.
The more than 1.44 million worldwide infections smashed the prior record after factoring out a day in December 2020 when Turkey backdated a significant number of cases. A more conservative gauge -- the seven-day rolling average that smooths out one-time fluctuations and holiday reporting irregularities -- is also at a record level, thanks to a tidal wave of Omicron infections.
The highly-mutated and most transmissible variant yet, Omicron is fast becoming the dominant strain globally as it evades immunity normally provided by vaccines and previous infections. The seven-day rolling average of cases on Monday stood at about 841,000, a jump of 49% from a month ago when micron was first identified in southern Africa.
Studies suggest that although Omicron infects 70 times faster than previous strains, the illness it causes may not be as severe, especially for people who have been vaccinated and received a booster shot. The ease of transmission and soaring number of cases could still squeeze hospital capacity worldwide, leaving the unvaccinated and anyone who needs medical care for other conditions in the lurch.
Governments already are warning that infections and hospitalization may soar following the holidays, setting a grim tone as the world heads into the third year of the pandemic.
The silver lining is that daily Covid deaths haven’t significantly increased. The seven-day rolling average of deaths has hovered at about 7,000 since mid-October after falling from a delta-driven peak, despite the emergence of Omicron.
The outlook heading into 2022 depends on whether the death toll follows cases and surges higher in the days to come, or if the Omicron wave proves mild as more real-world data emerges. While deaths tend to lag infection rates by a few weeks, early indications from southern Africa and other locations where Omicron has been circulating suggest some decoupling of the measures.
Better pandemic tools may explain some of the rise in case counts. More infections are being found during this Omicron wave thanks to improved contact tracing and testing capabilities in the worldwide fight against the pathogen.
The record case counts are increasing pressure on public health officials to reassess their Covid control policies. The U.S. cut the recommended isolation time for people who test positive for Covid-19, allowing them to return to work sooner and potentially helping reduce widespread disruptions that could close schools or snarl supply chains.
The Best and Worst Places to Be as Omicron Upends Christmas
The arrival of Omicron broadly halted the march toward normalization that characterized much of 2021. A reluctance to return to pre-vaccine lockdowns and other Covid curbs may be allowing the virus to spread more widely, though it’s also giving some people a more traditional holiday season with family and friends after a dismal 2020 before vaccines were widely available.
A 911 dispatcher has been placed on leave and may lose her job after allegedly hanging up on an supermarket employee hiding during this weekend's shooting rampage in Buffalo, New York. “Termination will be sought” for the dispatcher at a disciplinary hearing later this month, said spokesperson for the executive of Erie County, Peter Anderson, in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Anderson said it's unclear who hung up on whom.
A team of Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigations Department have questioned four Members of Parliament (MPs), including two former ministers, over last week's violence against protesters at two protest sites in Colombo, the country's largest city, local media has reported. According to reports, a CID team arrived at the Parliament Complex on Wednesday to interrogate--with the Speaker's permission--and record the statements of Rohitha Abeygunawardena and CB Ratnayake, both former ministers.
Though this is the first confirmed case in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for the possibility of more monkeypox cases. Here are 10 things to know about monkeypox and the 1st case in the United States in 2022 1. The Massachusetts man travelled to Canada at the end of April to meet friends and returned in early May. This is the first case of monkeypox this year.
North Korea is ramping up the production of drugs and medical supplies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc. According to the Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, North Korea is also increasing the production of traditional Korean medicines used to reduce fever and pain. In the capital city of Pyongyang and nearby regions, factories are churning out more injections, medicines and thermometers and other medical supplies.
Veteran diplomat Bridget Brink, who was nominated by US President Joe Biden to be the country's next ambassador to war-hit Ukraine, was on Wednesday (local time) given a unanimous approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for appointment to the post, which means that she just a step away from being Washington's new representative in the east European nation. She was nominated by Biden on April 25.