US warned of Omicron ‘blizzard’ in first weeks of 2022: Live | Coronavirus pandemic News

United States health experts have urged Americans to prepare for severe disruptions in the first weeks of 2022, as the rising wave of COVID-19 cases led by the Omicron variant threatened hospitals, schools and other sectors impacting their daily lives.

“The next month is going to be a viral blizzard,” Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told MSNBC news channel. “All of society is going to be pressured by this.”

The warning came as the US reached a record high in COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row based on the seven-day average, with more than 290,000 new infections reported each day, a Reuters news tally showed.

The state of Hawaii set an all-time record for new coronavirus cases on Thursday of nearly 3,500.

Meanwhile, Australia’s city of Sydney is gearing up for New Year’s Eve celebrations on Friday despite record Omicron surge. A total of 21,151 cases were reported on Friday.

Here are the latest updates:

Sydney gears up for New Year’s Eve celebrations despite record Omicron surge

Sydney, the Australian city worst-affected by the Omicron wave, will press ahead with New Year’s Eve celebrations on Friday, with authorities encouraging revellers to come out and enjoy the festivities despite a record number of COVID-19 cases.

Thousands are expected to flock to prime harbourside spots to watch Sydney’s famous fireworks, the traditional 12-minute pyrotechnic display to ring in the new year, with queues forming at many vantage points since early morning.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wished people to “enjoy the evening”, while NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet urged everyone to “head out and enjoy New Year’s” as daily infections in the state nearly doubled to a record 21,151 on Friday.

Pediatric hospitalisations in US up under Omicron, but it’s not more severe

New pediatric Covid hospitalisations have hit a record-high in the United States, as children are increasingly swept up in Omicron’s lightning spread.

While experts are concerned, and stress the need to step up vaccination among kids, early indications suggest that the new variant’s rate of severe disease could in fact be lower, and its extreme contagiousness is behind the rapid rise.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 199,000 children were reported infected with Covid-19 in the week ending December 23, the last week for which data is currently available, and a 50 percent rise on figures earlier in the month.

Health expert warns of increasing COVID pediatric hospitalisation in New York

Canada’s Quebec announces curfew

Canada’s second-most populous province has announced a nighttime curfew will be implemented as coronavirus infections continue to surge.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the 10pm-5am EST curfew would begin on New Year’s Eve on Friday.

In addition, restaurants will no longer be allowed to offer in-person dining, most private gatherings will be prohibited, and all indoor sports activities will be suspended, among other measures.

“Our experts tell us that there’s a risk that we won’t be able to treat all those who need it in the coming weeks. I know we’re all tired, but it’s my responsibility to protect [us] from this,” Legault told reporters during a news conference.

New York’s Times Square show will go on, mayor says

New York City will ring in 2022 in Times Square as planned despite record numbers of COVID-19 infections in the city, the state and around the nation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.

“We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this,” de Blasio, whose last day in office is on Friday, said on NBC’s “Today” show.

After banning revellers from Times Square a year ago due to the pandemic, city officials previously announced plans for a scaled-back New Year’s bash with smaller crowds and vaccinations required.

Premier League postpones 17th game this season

The Premier League has postponed an upcoming match between Leicester City and Norwich City – the 17th game of the season to be called off because of COVID-19.

The league said on Thursday that it accepted a request from the visiting team, Norwich, to postpone the match because the club did not have enough available players due to COVID-19 cases and injuries.

The game was set for January 1; the Premier League did not announce a new date for the fixture.

“The League is aware that the recent decisions to postpone matches will disappoint supporters, and understands their frustrations at a special time of year when fans look forward to attending and watching football games,” the league said in a statement.


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