New York Sets New Daily Record; Flights Snarled: Virus Update
More than 2,400 flights into and out of the U.S. were canceled on New Year’s Day, and more than 1,100 were delayed, according to the tracking firm FlightAware.com, amid bad weather and staff shortages caused by omicron’s spread.
South Africa said the number of people hospitalized fell slightly on Saturday, more evidence that the omicron outbreak there is peaking. Hospitalizations remained above 9,000 for a fourth straight day, though with capacity to spare.
In the U.K., Health Secretary Sajid Javid signaled opposition to further restrictions in response to the omicron outbreak and pledged to make more tests available as England reported record cases Saturday.
- Virus Tracker: Cases pass 289.1 million; deaths pass 5.4 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 9.18 billion shots given
- JPMorgan, Citi, BofA employees start 2022 working from home
- Hong Kong is increasingly shut off as inbound flights drop
- New NYC mayor vows post-virus renewal. Job No. 1: Tame Omicron
- What we know about the omicron variant now: QuickTake
N.Y. Shatters Daily Record (4:55 p.m. NY)
New York state shattered its record for new Covid-19 infections, reporting 85,476 cases on Saturday as the omicron variant continues its lightening spread.
That number compares with a daily average of just below 6,700 new cases on Dec. 1, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The tally on Saturday was almost 9,000 higher than the day before.
New York City had by far the state’s highest rates of infection, with a seven-day average of 419 cases per 100,000 people.
Quebec Hospitalizations Rise (2:40 p.m. NY)
Quebec reported a 9% rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations on Jan. 1, as Canada’s second most populous province struggles to contain a rise in infections after posting 17,122 new cases, the fifth straight day of record infections.
Quebec’s health ministry said Saturday there are now 1,168 hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the province, including 153 patients in intensive case. The French-speaking province has attempted to curb transmission of the omicron variant by restricting indoor gatherings and implementing a controversial 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve curfew.
Adams Says NYC Bigger Than Pandemic (1:24 p.m. NY)
Eric Adams declared New York City “open and alive” despite a record-breaking viral surge, in his first address as the city’s 110th mayor.
“I take this important office at a time of great challenges for our city,” Adams said Saturday in an inaugural speech at City Hall. He said he’d been sworn earlier in at Times Square because he “wanted New Yorkers and the world to be reminded of two things.”
“First that despite Covid-19 and its persistence, New York is not closed,” he said. “It’s still open and alive, because New York is more resilient than the pandemic.”
Outbreak Hits Antarctica Outpost (12:30 p.m. NY)
Two thirds of the 25 workers at a scientific outpost in Antarctica have contracted Covid-19, the BBC reported. The cases are so far mild, and the infected have opted not to leave the Princess Elisabeth Polar Station.
“While it has been an inconvenience to have to quarantine certain members of the staff who caught the virus, it hasn’t significantly affected our work,” Joseph Cheek, a project manager for Belgium-led outpost, told the BBC.
More U.S. Flights Canceled (12:13 p.m. NY)
Almost 2,400 flights into and out of the U.S. were canceled Saturday, and more than 1,100 were delayed, according to the tracking firm FlightAware.com, amid bad weather and staff shortages caused by the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
Some 1,627 flights into or out of the U.S. have already been canceled for Sunday, FlightAware said. A heavy snow storm across large parts of the country is expected to cause major travel disruptions, according to the National Weather Service.
With the U.S. hitting record infections, the holiday travel season has been snarled by about 12,000 canceled flights since Christmas Eve, according to the Associated Press.
U.K. Vows to Avoid Lockdown (12:05 p.m. NY)
U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid reiterated his view that the country must try to live with Covid-19. New curbs must be an “absolutely last resort,” he wrote in the Daily Mail, citing the “enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns.”
It’s inevitable there will be a big increase in the number of people in the hospital with the virus over the next month given the lag between infection and hospitalization, Javid said.
On Saturday, England reported a record 162,572 new infections, about four times the daily level in early December. Hospital admissions in the U.K., while rising, are far below last winter’s peak.
South Africa Hospitalizations Fall (9:58 a.m. NY)
Patient admissions in South Africa fell to 9,378 on Saturday, from a recent peak of 9,401 the day before, and 729 of those were in intensive-care units, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a report.
Earlier this week, the government said a fourth wave of omicron-driven infections may have peaked, and hospitals still have spare capacity.
UAE Restricts Unvaccinated Workers (9:30 a.m. NY)
Unvaccinated government employees in the United Arab Emirates will not be allowed into their workplaces as cases continues to rise in the Gulf nation.
Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed entry to federal government entities starting Jan. 3 to facilitate the work of government entities, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources said in a circular.
The Gulf nation, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, reported 2,556 cases on Saturday, along with 908 recoveries and one death. So far, the UAE has managed to avoid restrictions, unlike most major cities around the world.
Germany’s Incidence Rate and Deaths Rise (5 a.m. NY)
Germany’s seven-day incidence rate rose for the third day in a row to 220.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Robert Koch Institute data on Saturday. That compares with the nation’s pandemic’s record high of 452.4 reached on Nov. 29.
Daily Covid-19 related deaths in Europe’s biggest economy were 184, taking the nation’s total to 112,109.
Record Cases at U.S. Military Base in Japan (5:33 p.m. HK)
The U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, found a daily record of 235 new virus cases, the Kyodo news agency reported Saturday, citing a local government official. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the cases are related to the omicron variant. In a separate tally, Okinawa found a total of 65 new virus cases for the prefecture, it said.
Hong Kong Urges Booster Shots (5:10 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong is in a race against time with the omicron variant, according to Patrick Nip, the city’s Secretary for the Civil Service, as quoted by Radio Television Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s defense against Covid might not be as robust as imagined and might be insufficient to ward off a collapse of its health care system, Nip added, urging residents to take the booster shot. About 1.5 million Hong Kongers received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago. Among those, 25% have had a booster.
Hong Kong added 17 newly confirmed Covid cases on Saturday, government statement said. Starting today, it will report cases in three categories: confirmed, asymptomatic, and repositive. Eight previously confirmed cases have been found to carry the omicron variant.
Kenya to Roll Out Boosters (4:46 p.m. HK)
Kenya will begin to give boosters from Jan. 1 to raise its population’s immunity against the virus.
The government will prioritize “health-care workers, security personnel, teachers, those with co-existing medical conditions and those above 50 years of age,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said late Friday.
The East African nation has fully vaccinated 15% of its adult population.
Singapore to Allow Work Events for as Many as 1,000 (3:48 p.m. HK)
Singapore is boosting the number of people allowed to attend work events such as annual shareholder meetings as the city-state continues steps toward normality.
The capacity for such events, which include employee town halls and training, will rise to 1,000 from 50 as long as participants meet certain criteria. That includes wearing masks, not consuming meals and largely standing or sitting in a fixed position, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement.
India Cases Jump Most in Almost 2 Months (2:20 p.m. HK)
India added 22,775 new infections, the country’s biggest single-day jump since Nov. 5, as the nation’s case total rose to 34.86 million, according to data from the Health ministry on Saturday.
While the latest numbers show a recent uptick in Covid-19 infections, the daily change remains well below the brutal second wave in the summer of 2021 when they topped 400,000 cases at the peak.
There were 406 Covid-related deaths as the India’s toll rose to 481,486 deaths.
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