Omicron Variant Update

The US is now averaging 198,404 new Covid-19 cases each day, according to Sunday data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s 47% higher than a week ago and the highest number since January 19.
About 71,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Sunday, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Looking ahead to New Year’s Eve on Friday, small gatherings of fully vaccinated people will be safe, Fauci said. But he advised people to avoid large parties where they don’t know the vaccination status of all guests.
“There will be other years to do that. But not this year.”

More children are getting hospitalized with Covid-19

Pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations keep rising, and they’re nearing the record high set in early September.

Close to half of the Covid-19 tests being performed at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, are coming back positive, the hospital’s infectious diseases chief told CNN on Monday.
It’s an indication of just how quickly the new Omicron variant is spreading in the community; But so far, she said, the affected children are not any sicker than they were when previous variants circulated. There are just more of them.
More provinces have tightened public health restrictions as the Omicron variant sent Canada’s COVID-19 cases soaring past the two million mark and raised fears of a post-holiday hospital spike.
The government of Canada’s health website said the total case count was 2,000,976 as of Boxing Day. The website wasn’t updated over the holiday period.
The new milestone was reached as several provinces recorded their highest-ever COVID-19 case numbers over the Christmas weekend.
Monday it was imposing new public health restrictions after the province reported eight new COVID-19 related deaths and 2,154 cases over a three-day period since Christmas Eve.
Health officials said about 75 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Manitoba were now suspected to be due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Quebec reported 8,231 cases, 320 people were admitted to hospital while 179 were released between Dec. 22 and 26. Admissions were rising, with 93 people entering the hospital on Boxing Day alone.
Ontario reported 9,418 new cases of COVID-19, which was down slightly from the record-breaking numbers on Christmas Day.
New Zealand is taking measures to limit the spread of Omicron, including delaying the reopening of its borders until late Febr. It has detected 22 cases of Omicron in international arrivals but no community cases of the variant have been reported.
In other measures to limit the new variant’s eventual spread, the government said that residents would get access to a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine sooner — at four months instead of six — after their second shot.
The Omicron variant is coursing through the community and has even reached Yulara, a remote community more than 1,000 miles south of the nearest coastal city, Darwin. Two workers who had flown there from Brisbane tested positive.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted, however, that the country would not return to harsh lockdowns.
“Yes, we’re going to need to continue to calibrate how we manage this virus and how we live with this virus in the face of Omicron,” Mr. Morrison said. But, he added: “We’re not going back to lockdowns. We’re not going back to shutting down people’s lives.”
In Japan, which closed its borders to all nonresident foreigners last month, an outbreak of 180 cases at an American military base has also raised fears of a resurgence. The virus was first detected at the base on the southern island of Okinawa, the authorities said, adding that it was unclear how many of those people had been sickened by Omicron. The government has asked the United States to increase restrictions on and around the base.
And in Indonesia, where only 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the government has banned entry by foreign nationals from several countries in Africa and Europe. The government has said it is considering increasing the quarantine period for Indonesian citizens arriving from those countries to 14 days from 10.
Sources : The New York Times, Global News, The Washington Post & CNN,