The United States has posted its second-highest daily total for new COVID-19 cases, as one expert predicts some 5 million Americans could call in sick in the coming week in a major disruption to the economy and essential services.
On Friday, the US recorded 900,832 new COVID cases, second only to the more than 1 million cases recorded on Monday. The nation’s four highest caseload days since the start of the pandemic were all recorded in the past week.
The average daily case increase over the past seven days has been 664,732, a 64 percent increase from a week ago, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. Deaths ticked up on Friday to 2,615, a 22 percent increase from week-ago levels on a rolling-average basis, but still well below the peak a year ago.
Hospitalizations are rising quickly towards record highs, though new data from New York suggests that many hospital admissions with COVID are now incidental, with patients testing positive for the virus after hospitalization for unrelated complaints.
Most experts believe infections will continue to increase in the US for the next few weeks before the Omicron surge peaks in late January, with Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that the US will likely record more than 1 million cases daily on a regular basis in coming weeks.
‘It’s still surging upward… I would not be surprised at all if we go over a million cases per day,’ Fauci told WNBC-TV on Friday. ‘I would hope that by the time we get to the fourth week in January — end of the third week, beginning of the fourth week – that we will start see this coming down.’
Though Omicron appears less likely to cause severe illness and death than prior strains, the widespread infections could force some five million Americans to stay home from work in the coming days, Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, told the Wall Street Journal.
Illness-related staff shortages have already hobbled a number of industries for weeks, driving more than 1,000 daily flight cancellations for 13 straight days, and the coming surge in COVID sick leave could further hammer businesses that don’t allow for remote working.
In Britain, the number of daily cases fell for a third day in a row – a sign the worst of the Omicron wave may be over. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show there were 146,390 new positive tests over the last 24 hours, down 18.5 per cent on the previous week’s figure of 179,637.
Experts hope nationwide numbers will continue to follow London’s trajectory of rapidly falling cases and now hospitalisations. A similar trend was seen Omicron ground zero South Africa, which saw a sharp peak in cases before infections quickly dropped off.
It marked the biggest week-on-week fall since the start of November, well before the supermutant strain sent cases soaring across the country. But the number of people dying with the virus continued to increase today, with 313 fatalities recorded — up 103 per cent on last week’s number.
The surge may be slightly overinflated due to less deaths being recorded on New Year’s Day last weekend. Fatalities usually follow trends in case numbers around two weeks later due to the time it takes for the virus to take hold. Covid hospitalizations in Omicron hotspot London fell 31 per cent to 310 on January 6, the latest date regional data is available for.
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Source: Daily Mail