US and France Report Record Increase in Daily Cases

The United States and France have reported their biggest daily increases in new Covid cases since the pandemic began, as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), the country reported more than 440,000 new infections on Monday. However, officials said the figures could be an “overstatement” due to reporting delays over Christmas. Meanwhile, France reported the highest number of new daily cases in Europe.  It saw 179,807 infections on Tuesday, and French health minister Olivier Véran previously

However, in the US, a CDC spokesperson told the Politico news site that the figure was likely an “overstatement” due to testing delays and testing center closures over the Christmas period, adding that case counts  Greece, Portugal and England also posted record increases on Tuesday. It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the risk of the Omicron variant “remains very high” in its weekly Covid update.

According to the update published on Tuesday, the number of new Covid infections of all strains grew by 57% in Europe in the week before December 26 and by 30% in the Americas region. Studies suggest that the Omicron variant is milder than Delta, with a 30% to 70% lower chance that infected people will end up in the hospital. But fears persist that the sheer number of cases stemming from the highly infectious variant could overwhelm hospitals.

The CDC data tracker says cases increased by 441,278 on Dec. 27, by far the highest number of daily cases ever reported to the agency. The US media reports that the average increase in infections in seven days is now at its highest level since January 2021. However, agency officials also downgraded the prevalence of Omicron in the US, saying it accounts for 59% of cases instead of 73% as previously reported.

Medical policy expert Scott Gottlieb said the new estimate could suggest that a “good portion of current hospitalizations” in the United States are still being driven by the Delta variant. Meanwhile, France announced its own massive spike in infections on Tuesday. The French Hospital Federation has said that “the most difficult weeks are yet to come.

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new restrictions earlier this week, including at least three days a week of compulsory work from home for those who can work from the beginning of January. The country’s booster rollout has also increased, with more than 23 million boosting to date. Several other European countries also reported daily record cases on Tuesday.