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US hits record level of new COVID-19 cases: Live news | Coronavirus pandemic News
More countries see coronavirus cases surge to highest levels ever amid the rapid spread of Omicron variant.
New cases of COVID-19 in the United States have soared to their highest level on record, largely driven by the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.
Australia also hit a new record on Thursday as it narrowed its definition of close contacts of coronavirus cases and relaxed requirements for COVID-19 tests, in a bid to relieve pressure on testing sites.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warned that the Omicron and Delta variants could produce a “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases that will put “immense pressure” on healthcare systems.
Here are the latest updates:
55 mins ago (06:46 GMT)
New COVID-19 infections in the US have reached their highest level on record, at more than 265,000 per day on average.
The number of new daily cases has more than doubled over the past two weeks, eclipsing the old mark of 250,000, set in mid-January, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Omicron has cast a pall over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, forcing communities to scale back or call off their festivities.
Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, said that there is no need to cancel small home gatherings for those who have received two or three vaccine doses.
Australia has hit a new record, with daily cases topping 20,000 for the first time in the pandemic.
It came as the government narrowed its definition of “close contacts” of coronavirus cases as people who live in the same household with an infected person. They would have to isolate for seven days and would only have to get a PCR test if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
The rules are being relaxed to stop asymptomatic people being forced into isolation, especially in healthcare, hospitality and airlines, and cut long lines of people forced to get PCR tests for interstate travel or because they have been at a public site with a confirmed case.
The country’s medical association criticised the govenrment’s redefinition of close contacts, saying it would further accelerate the outbreak.
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