Daily COVID-19 infections have reached record levels in the United States, across swathes of Europe and Australia as the new Omicron variant of the virus spirals out of control, keeping workers at home and overwhelming health centers. test.
Almost two years after China first reported a cluster of ‘viral pneumonia’ cases in the city of Wuhan, the regularly mutating coronavirus is wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, forcing governments to rethink quarantine and testing rules.
Although some studies have suggested that the Omicron variant is less lethal than some of its predecessors, the large number of people who test positive means hospitals in some countries may soon be overwhelmed, while businesses may struggle to keep operating. due to the quarantine of workers.
“Delta and Omicron are now twin threats that are pushing the number of cases to a record high, leading to spikes in hospitalizations and deaths,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Tedros said on Wednesday. a press conference.
“I am very concerned that Omicron, being highly transmissible and spreading at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.”
France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta all had record numbers of new cases on Tuesday.
Several Canadian provinces – including Quebec, Manitoba and two Atlantic provinces – recorded single-day highs of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with new highs in several provinces and territories on Wednesday.
Quebec health officials reported 13,149 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while Ontario recorded 10,436 new cases. Nunavut recorded 37 new cases, a single-day record for the territory, which has only one hospital.
The average daily number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has also reached an all-time high in the past seven days, according to a Reuters tally. The previous peak was in January of this year.
New daily infections in Australia hit nearly 18,300 on Wednesday, eclipsing the previous pandemic record of around 11,300 reached a day earlier.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said his country needs a “change of gears” to deal with overcrowded laboratories, with long queues for people on foot and in cars reported in a number of areas.
Testing bottlenecks have also created in European countries, including Spain, where demand for free COVID-19 test kits provided by the Madrid regional government far exceeded supply on Tuesday, with long queues forming in front of pharmacies.
A number of governments were also increasingly concerned about the large number of people being forced into self-isolation because they had been in contact with someone with coronavirus.
“We just can’t take everyone off the road because they happen to be in a particular place at a particular time,” Australian Morrison told reporters.
Italy was due to relax some of its quarantine rules on Wednesday over fears the country would shut down soon given the number of people needing to self-isolate protectively, with cases doubling Tuesday from a day earlier to 78,313.
However, China has shown no slack in its zero tolerance policy for outbreaks, now 13 million people in Xi’an city under strict containment for a seventh day as new COVID-19 infections persist, with 151 cases reported Tuesday.
–From Reuters and CBC News, latest update 11:25 a.m.ET
What’s happening across Canada
For more details on the situation in your province and territory – including recent hospitalizations and intensive care capacity, as well as local testing issues – click on the local coverage below.
In the north, Nunavut On Wednesday, 37 new cases were reported, a new single-day record for the territory. The prime minister said on Wednesday that the territory, which currently lives under strict restrictions, had active cases in eight communities, health officials told yukonese and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated information for the day.
In central Canada, Quebec As of Wednesday, 13,149 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, a new high in a single day. The province also reported 10 more deaths.
The update came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé announced measures that would allow some healthcare workers to stay at work despite testing positive for the virus. The province had no choice but to change its isolation protocols, he said, due to the meteoric spread of the Omicron variant, which created staff shortages.
“We have no choice,” Dubé said in a briefing, calling the government’s plan a “better alternative” to not having care.
Ontario Wednesday saw a single-day high of 10,436 new COVID-19 cases, along with three more deaths.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported 194 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a single-day record in the province. Prince Edward Island also recorded a record, with 118 new cases.
Health officials in New Scotland, who reported 561 new cases on Tuesday, laid out a plan for a return to school in the New Year. Education Minister Becky Druhan announced that students would be back in classrooms on January 10, a delay from the original return date of January 6.
In New Brunswick, health officials reported 306 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba recorded a daily record of 825 COVID-19 cases, with health officials reporting five more deaths. Saskatchewan, which had not released COVID-19 figures over the Christmas holidays, reported a total of 896 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths over a five-day period.
Alberta, meanwhile, reported a total of 8,250 cases during the same period, bringing the number of active cases in the province to more than 15,000.
“It is spreading so quickly and so far that managing individual cases will not substantially stop the spread,” said Dr Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
In British Columbia, health officials on Tuesday reported 1,785 new cases of COVID-19, with details of deaths and hospitalizations expected on Wednesday.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated 11:30 am ET
What is happening in the world
As of Wednesday morning, around 282.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker. The death toll worldwide stood at more than 5.4 million.
In Europe, France’s health ministry will report 208,000 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday in the past 24 hours – a national and European record, Health Minister Olivier Veran told lawmakers. He said every second two French people test positive for COVID-19. France on Tuesday reported a new record of nearly 180,000 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period.
In the Americas, New York City will stop quarantining entire classrooms exposed to the coronavirus and instead prioritize an accelerated testing program so that asymptomatic students who test negative can stay in school, officials said.
In Africa, South Africa on Tuesday reported 7,216 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 more deaths.
To date, the cumulative number of cases of # COVID19 identified in AS is 3,424,534 with 7,216 new cases reported. Today, 25 deaths have been reported bringing the total to 90,854 deaths. The cumulative number of recoveries now stands at 3,134,314 with a recovery rate of 91.5% pic.twitter.com/bFvS9hVfT3
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia reported 602 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with one additional death.
Daily infections in the United Arab Emirates, the tourism and commercial hub of the Gulf region, topped 2,000 for the first time since June.
In the Asia Pacific region, Thai authorities have warned residents they should prepare for a potential increase in coronavirus cases after classifying the country’s first cluster of the Omicron variant as a “super-spreader” incident.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated 8:25 a.m. ET
Got a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now.