Omicron tests Aussie plan to reopen
MELBOURNE • The Omicron coronavirus variant spread in Australia yesterday, testing plans to reopen the economy as a cluster in Sydney grew to 13 cases and an infection was suspected in the state of Queensland.
Australia reported its first community transmission of Omicron on Friday in Sydney and the authorities are investigating the source.
The Queensland authorities suspected its first Omicron case - a person who travelled from South Africa.
NY faces healthcare crisis as cases surge
NEW YORK • A surge in Covid-19 cases and a shortage of healthcare workers are causing hospitals and nursing homes to be filled past their capacity in upstate New York, creating a growing crisis in the healthcare system even before the Omicron variant is known to have spread through the area, said hospital executives from Buffalo to Albany.
Hospitalisations in the region have more than tripled since August when the Delta wave began to sweep through the state, Governor Kathy Hochul said last week.
Canada detects 15 cases of Omicron
OTTAWA • Canada has discovered a total of 15 cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 and severe illness trends across the country could start to rise again, public health officials said on Friday.
The federal government said it backed a national advisory board's recommendation that all adults above 50 should receive a booster shot six months after completion of a vaccine series.
India reports third case of new variant
AHMEDABAD • India reported its third case of the Omicron variant yesterday, government officials said, as total Covid-19 cases inched closer to the 35 million mark. Officials in the western state of Gujarat said the patient who tested positive for Omicron was a 72-year-old man of Indian origin who had lived in Zimbabwe and returned on Nov 28.
No need to panic: S. African doctor
JOHANNESBURG • Higher hospital admissions among children during a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in South Africa, driven by the Omicron variant, should prompt vigilance but not panic as infections have been mild, Dr Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in Gauteng province, said yesterday. Of the 1,511 Covid-positive patients in hospitals in the province, 113 were under nine years old, she added.