US reports 1.35 mln COVID-19 cases in a day, shattering global record

People stand in line to receive free at home COVID-19 Antigen Rapid test kits at the Aspen Hill Public Library in Aspen Hill, Maryland, USA, 10 January 2022. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus pandemic is the dominant strain in many countries as case numbers spike around the world. [EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW]

The United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections on Monday (10 January), according to a Reuters tally, the highest daily total for any country in the world as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant showed no signs of slowing.

The previous record was 1.03 million cases on 3 January. A large number of cases are reported each Monday due to many states not reporting over the weekend. The seven-day average for new cases has tripled in two weeks to over 700,000 new infections a day.

The record in new cases came the same day as the nation saw the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also hit an all-time high, having doubled in three weeks, according to a Reuters tally.

There were more than 136,604 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year.

While the Omicron variant is potentially less severe, health officials have warned that the sheer number of infections could strain hospital systems, some of which have already suspended elective procedures as they struggle to handle the increase in patients and staff shortages.

The surge in cases has disrupted schools, which are struggling with absences of staff, teachers and bus drivers.

Chicago canceled classes for a fourth day as the district and teachers failed to agree on how to deal with increased infections.

New York City suspended service on three subway lines as a large number of workers were out sick, according to its Twitter account. Companies’ plans for workers to return to office have also been derailed.

Deaths are averaging 1,700 per day, up from about 1,400 in recent days but within levels seen earlier this winter.

A redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant is likely needed, Pfizer Inc’s CEO said on Monday, adding his company could have one ready to launch by March.

China cancels flights

China has ordered the cancellation of more than two dozen scheduled flights from the US in recent weeks after numerous passengers tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in China.

China’s aviation regulator has mandated the cancellations of eight total scheduled US passenger airline flights for Shanghai under its COVID-19 pandemic rules: four by United Airlines and two each from Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

Delta said it canceled Detroit to Shanghai flights last Friday and 14 January due to the Chinese rule requiring “all affected carriers”, whose passengers test positive for COVID-19, “to cancel inbound service on certain China flights.”

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has also canceled at least 22 other US bound flights operated by Chinese carriers since December after positive COVID-19 tests, including eight by China Southern Airlines Co.

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