SYDNEY: Global Covid-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, a tally 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 Dec 22 and Dec 28, with myriad countries posting new all-time highs over the past 24 hours, including the United States, Australia and many European nations.
Almost two years after China first reported a cluster of “viral pneumonia” cases in the city of Wuhan, the regularly mutating coronavirus is still wreaking havoc, forcing numerous governments to rethink quarantine and test rules.
Although studies have suggested the Omicron variant is less deadly than some of its predecessors, the huge numbers of people testing positive mean that hospitals in some countries might soon be overwhelmed, while businesses might struggle to carry on operating because of workers having to quarantine.
The huge numbers of infected persons mean that hospitals in some countries may soon be overwhelmed
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 258,312 over the past seven days, according to a tally on Wednesday.
The previous peak was a figure of 250,141 registered in early January, this year.
British 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 reported in a number of areas.
Testing bottlenecks have also emerged in European nations, including Spain where demand for free Covid-19 testing kits provided by Madrid’s regional government have far outstripped supply, with long queues forming outside pharmacies.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2021