Omicron disrupts holiday season: Global cases hit record high with over 1 million infections

The Omicron variant of coronavirus is disrupting the holiday season worldwide as global cases hit a record high with 1.44 cases on Monday.

Covid surges have wreaked havoc around the world, with many nations in Europe and North America trying to strike a balance between economically punishing restrictions and controlling the spread of the virus.

The surges in many countries have been propelled by the highly transmissible Omicron virus variant, hammering vulnerable sectors such as travel.

The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases, which is considered a more conservative gauge, is also at an all-time high. It has jumped 49 per cent from last month and currently stands at 841,000.

Also see | Yearender 2021: Vaccine drive, virus resurgence, Omicron & lockdown 2.0

Some 11,500 flights have been scrapped worldwide since Friday, and tens of thousands more delayed, during one of the year’s busiest travel periods.

Multiple airlines have blamed staffing shortages caused by spikes of Omicron cases. Airlines encouraged workers to quit in 2020 when air travel collapsed, and carriers have struggled to make up ground this year when air travel rebounded faster than almost anyone had expected. The arrival of the omicron variant only exacerbated the problem.

Also read | 11,500 flights grounded worldwide since Friday as Omicron fuels another wave of infections

Authorities worry the Omicron variant could be the most transmissible yet but studies are still ongoing regarding the short and long-term effects of the variant that was originally detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,400,024 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally compiled by John Hopkins University.

Overall, the United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 816,819, followed by Brazil with 618,448, India with 479,997, and Russia with 305,155.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

(With inputs from agencies)

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