The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now prominent in the United States, accounting for 73 percent of all sequenced COVID-19 cases, dashing hopes for a relatively normal holiday season in the country.
According to the latest federal estimates, the Omicron variant surged from 3 percent of all COVID-19 cases last week to 73 percent now. As per the Bloomberg report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed, in a model that it updates weekly, that the highly mutated coronavirus strain has been detected across the country. The Delta variant has subsided to around 27 percent of all COVID-19 cases.
The Omicron variant is spreading at lightning speed in areas with community transmission and is contributing to the doubling of COVID-19 cases, said the World Health Organization on Saturday, 18 December.
Lines for COVID-19 tests wrapped around the block in New York, Washington and other cities over the weekend as people clamoured to find out if they are infected ahead of Christmas.
The rapidly-spreading variant has resurrected fears of another wave of infections which could put added pressure on the US healthcare system. Although the strain seems to be milder than the Delta variant, the surge in infections would be challenging for the already-swamped hospitals.
The CDC said that the jump in Omicron was expected and is similar to patterns seen worldwide. The Omicron variant contributes to around 92 percent of cases in New York and New Jersey, the CDC estimates showed, and 96 percent in Washington State.
The US is urging eligible citizens to get vaccinated and to seek out booster shots to protect against the Omicron variant.
(With inputs from Bloomberg, Reuters)