Omicron drives eightfold increase in COVID cases in India Coronavirus pandemic news

India began administering booster doses of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 vaccine to frontline workers and the elderly, resulting in a nearly eight-fold increase in daily infections since the beginning of the year.

In Europe, hospitalizations caused by COVID-19 have risen markedly as healthcare workers in Spain, the UK, Italy and elsewhere find themselves in increasingly desperate situations.

Meanwhile, Tianjin’s main port could face China’s first local outbreak of Omicron, less than a month before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Here are the latest updates as of January 6:

Omicron drives nearly eightfold growth in India

The fast-spreading variant of Omicron has led to a nearly eight-fold increase in daily infections since the beginning of the year.

India reported 179,723 new cases on Monday, mostly in the country’s biggest cities — New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata — where Omicron has replaced Delta as the most prevalent strain of the virus.

Since the pandemic first hit India in early 2020, a total of 146 people have died, bringing the death toll to 483,936, the third highest in the world.

A healthcare worker collects swabs for coronavirus testing in New Delhi [File: Reuters]

European healthcare under pressure from Omicron

European healthcare systems are again under pressure due to the rapid spread of Omicron variants during the holiday season.

While early research suggests Omicron has a lower risk of serious illness or hospitalization compared with the previously dominant Delta strain, healthcare networks in Spain, the UK, Italy and elsewhere find themselves in increasingly desperate situations.

Britain began deploying military personnel on Friday to support hospitals facing staff shortages and extreme pressure due to the country’s record number of COVID-19 cases.

“Omicron means more patients need to be treated and fewer staff are needed to treat them,” National Health Service (NHS) medical director Professor Stephen Boyce said in a statement.

Dutch hospital staff increasingly infected

In the Netherlands, infection rates among hospital staff, especially nurses and nursing assistants, are also rising sharply, Dutch daily De Telegraaf reported after a survey of eight major hospitals.

In the worst-case scenario, one in four people will test positive on Christmas Eve. At Amsterdam University Medical Center, 25% of staff have now tested positive, up from 5% a week ago.

Despite a strict lockdown since December 19, the Netherlands has seen record daily cases and hospitals are considering changing their quarantine rules so infected employees who are asymptomatic can go to work.

Spain not ready for Omicron surge

Spain has failed to do enough to strengthen vital services and the pressure will be on for weeks, said Rafael Bengoa, co-founder of the Institute for Health and Strategy in Bilbao and a former senior WHO official. continue to increase within.

“Spain had a couple of weeks — basically the whole of January — where cases were rising … and then hopefully we’ll reach a plateau of the same rapid decline,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Bengoa said he thinks a more contagious variant more deadly than Omicron is unlikely, and is optimistic that the current wave could herald the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

“Pandemics don’t end with huge booms, they end with wavelets, because a lot of people have been infected or vaccinated… After Omicron, we shouldn’t be concerned with anything other than wavelets.”

Spanish people line up to get vaccinatedPeople line up to get COVID-19 vaccine in Madrid [File: Sergio Perez/Reuters]

China’s Tianjin partially closed

Less than a month ago, major Chinese port Tianjin may have faced the country’s first local outbreak of Omicron Winter Olympics Open near Beijing.

CCTV said the government has divided Tianjin and its 14 million residents into three levels of restrictions, starting with a blockade that prevents people from leaving their homes.

The city began mass testing of all residents on Sunday after a group of 20 children and adults tested positive for COVID-19, at least two of them with the Omicron variant. Another 20 people tested positive on Sunday.

Australia ‘advances’: PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia must “survive” the fast-growing Omicron outbreak as the country’s total COVID-19 cases top 1 million – more than half in the past week alone record of.

The situation is an upturn for Australia, which suppressed previous waves of the pandemic with lockdowns and strict border controls and quarantines.

“Omicron is a gear change and we have to stick with it,” Morrison told a media briefing in the capital Canberra. “You have two options here: you can push or you can lock in. We’re here to push.”

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