Europe, U.S. brace for surging COVID-19 infections, travel chaos during holiday season

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BEIJING. KAZINFORM For most Europeans and Americans, the annual Christmas season is a festive period for happy family reunion and joyous holiday travel. But they could not find much to have a good laugh about together this year, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has triggered another explosion of infections and deaths in their homelands.

While many in the Western society are mournfully changing their holiday plans after airlines and railways cancelled more services at the last minute, experts worldwide are urging rapid re-imposition and upgrade of control measures, as well as broader vaccination efforts, to slow down the spread of the virus and keep the COVID-19-related burden manageable, Xinhua reports.


According to data published on Thursday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the 50th week of 2021 witnessed 2,644,836 more cases and 26,179 new deaths registered in Europe.

The 14-day notification rate of reported cases per 100,000 population in Europe has hit roughly 629.2, the ECDC data showed.

France, one of the worst-hit European countries by Omicron, reported on Saturday 104,611 new cases, the highest daily record since the pandemic broke out in the country, bringing its cumulative caseload to 9,088,371, said the French Public Health Agency.

Local media reported around 20 percent of the new cases in France are related to Omicron.

Official figures released Friday showed that Britain had reported another 122,186 cases in the latest 24-hour period, breaking the record of 120,000 daily cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It also reported a further 137 coronavirus-related deaths.

The country had altogether registered some 700,000 cases and 810 deaths in the week ending Friday, up by 48.2 percent and 2 percent respectively from the previous week.

Also on Friday, Spain reported 72,912 new cases, a record high for the third day running. Italy reported 44,595 infections on Thursday, the highest daily count it has ever registered.

Also dire is the situation in the United States. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that more than 69,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Christmas Eve.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 300,000 new cases were reported on Dec. 21, a new high since Jan. 8. About 2,200 new deaths were reported on Dec. 22, the highest single-day increase since Oct. 8.

The CDC has announced that Omicron is the cause of 73 percent of new infections across the United States, and even of 90 percent in some parts of the country.


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