Omicron drives COVID-19 records higher in multiple countries

Paris market
Paris market

MF Photo/Cyril Marcilhacy/Flickr cc

Several countries including France and Italy are reporting new daily record highs for COVID-19, mainly due to the more transmissible Omicron variant, as nations brace for fresh surges in the wake of holiday gatherings.

Record-breaking days in France, Italy, Australia

French government officials announced more restrictions today, with cases above 100,000 a day and at record daily highs.

Officials imposed a limit on large indoor and outdoor gatherings over the next 3 weeks, along with stepped-up mask requirements and more work-from-home requirements, according to Reuters. Other steps include requiring proof of vaccination—not including a negative test—for the planned vaccine pass and narrowing the booster-dose interval from 6 to 4 months after the primary series.

Italy on Christmas Day reported its third record daily high in a row, with 54,762 new cases.

In the United Kingdom, currently one of Europe's biggest Omicron hot spots, the Health Security Agency (HSA) today reported more than 98,000 COVID-19 cases. It also confirmed 45,307 more Omicron cases, raising its total to 159,932. So far, 407 people have been hospitalized with Omicron infections, and 39 people have died.

Elsewhere, Australia today reported its biggest daily COVID-19 total, along with its first known death from Omicron, which involved a Sydney man in his 80s who had underlying health conditions, according to Reuters.

And China's cases have sharply increased and are at 21-month highs, mainly fueled by an ongoing outbreak in the city of Xian, according to the South China Morning Post. The city of nearly 13 million, currently under lockdown, reported 155 local cases yesterday. Today, the country's National Health Commission reported 162 local cases, including 150 in Xian.

More global headlines

  • Israeli researchers launched a trial to assess the impact of a second round of booster shots, according to Reuters. The ministry expects results in about 2 weeks. The country—the first to roll out initial booster doses—is considering fourth doses for those older than 60 and people with weakened immune systems.

  • The Gaza Strip reported it first known Omicron case, a resident who contracted the virus locally, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

  • Ecuador last week announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for people ages 5 and older.

  • The global total today climbed to 280,768,392 cases, and 5,404,329 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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