Countries around the world are seeing further rise in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases filled with the highly mutated variant of Omicron, which was detected in South Africa last month, prompting governments to reimpose restrictions more stringent and scrambling to boost testing and vaccinations.
Omicron, which has been called a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), has triggered a new wave of Covid-19 in South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and several other regions.
Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency director, told AFP that there is currently no indication to suggest that Omicron, although highly infectious, causes more serious illness than previous variants of Covid- 19 such as Delta.
Existing vaccines are expected to protect people who contract Omicron from the worst consequences of the disease, Ryan said in an interview.
Here’s what the situation looks like in the worst-affected countries around the world:
The European nation on Sunday recorded more than 100,000 viral infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic, the AP news agency reported citing health officials.
More than 1,000 people in France with the virus have died in the past week, bringing the country’s total death toll to more than 122,000.
More than one in 100 people in the Paris region tested positive last week, according to the regional health service. Hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 have also doubled in the past month.
As Omicron sweeps the country, Britain has recorded more than 100,000 cases in a single day. British cases of Covid-19 hit a record for a third day on Friday, at 122,186, against 119,789. 137 other deaths have been confirmed.
The Omicron threat was highlighted by data released by the Office for National Statistics, which estimated that 1.7 million people in the UK had Covid-19 during the week ending December 19, the most high since comparable figures were first recorded in the fall of 2020.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States is on the rise, with an average of nearly 190,000 new infections per day over the past seven days, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
According to the CDC, more than 76% of total corona cases in the United States are variants of Omicron.
In New York, health officials on Sunday “identified a fourfold increase in Covid-19 hospital admissions for children 18 and under from the week of December 5 through the current week” .
After three consecutive days of a record number of cases, Italy on Sunday recorded just 24,883 new infections in the space of 24 hours. The number descended from a previous 54,762.
Italy’s health ministry said 54,762 new cases were reported on Saturday. Whereas 50,599 cases had arrived a day earlier. The ministry blamed Omicron for about a third (28%) of the total corona cases.
The number of people hospitalized for Covid in South Africa rose to 9,114 on Sunday, according to data from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases. The positive daily rate also rose to 27.2% from 25.7% a day earlier.
The largest share of new cases was in the coastal Western Cape Province at 28%, followed by KwaZulu Natal at 26%, two popular destinations for domestic tourists during the current summer vacation period.
As of Monday morning, the national Omicron case tally stood at 508, with Maharashtra reporting 141 cases, the highest number in the country.
The state is followed by Delhi with 79 cases, Kerala has seen 57 infections, Gujarat has 49, Telangana 44, Tamil Nadu 34, Karnataka 31, Rajasthan 23, Haryana 10, Madhya Pradesh nine, Odisha eight, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal reported six each, while Chandigarh and J&K have three each, followed by UP at two, and one each in Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
In light of the increase in Omicron cases, state governments are imposing various restrictions such as nighttime curfews and a cap on the number of people allowed to attend social gatherings.