World Breaks Daily Covid-19 Case Record as Omicron March Christmas | World news
Global Covid-19 cases hit a daily record on Monday, disrupting the holiday season a year after vaccine rollout began and two years after the emergence of the virus that many hoped to be ephemeral.
The world’s more than 1.44 million infections broke the previous record after factoring in a day in December 2020 when Turkey backdated a significant number of cases. A more conservative gauge – the seven-day moving average that smooths out one-off swings and irregularities in vacation reporting – is also at an all-time high, thanks to a tidal wave of infections at Omicron.
A highly mutated and most transmissible variant to date, Omicron is quickly becoming the dominant strain worldwide, as it escapes the immunity normally provided by vaccines and past infections. On Monday, the seven-day moving average of cases stood at around 841,000, a jump of 49% from a month ago when the 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 have been boosted. The ease of transmission and the growing number of cases could further reduce hospital capacity around the world, leaving the unvaccinated and anyone in need of medical attention for other conditions embarrassed.
Governments are already warning that infections and hospitalizations could skyrocket after the holidays, setting a somber tone as the world enters the third year of the pandemic.
The silver lining is that daily Covid deaths have not increased significantly. The seven-day moving average of deaths has hovered around 7,000 since mid-October after falling from a delta-driven peak despite the emergence of Omicron.
The outlook to 2022 depends on whether the death toll follows cases and increases in the days to come, or whether the Omicron wave proves mild as more real-world data emerges. While deaths tend to delay infection rates by a few weeks, early indications from southern Africa and other places Omicron has circulated suggest some decoupling of measures.
Better tools in the event of a pandemic may explain part of the increase in the number of cases. More infections are detected during this Omicron wave thanks to improved contact tracing and testing capabilities in the global pathogen control.
The record number of cases increases pressure on public health officials to reassess their Covid control policies. The United States has reduced the recommended isolation time for people who test positive for Covid-19, allowing them to return to work sooner and potentially helping to reduce widespread disruption that could close schools or scold supply chains .
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The arrival of Omicron largely halted the march towards normalization that characterized much of 2021. A reluctance to revert to pre-vaccine blockades and other Covid brakes may allow the virus to spread more widely, although that it also gives some people a more traditional holiday season with family and friends after a dismal 2020 before vaccines became widely available.