Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), praised Joe Biden’s plan to distribute 500 million home testing kits.However, she emphasised that it was too late to stop the surge in Omicron cases.
She said: ”Unfortunately, it’s late in coming and will be a small drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of cases on the horizon.”
In the US isolation rules for healthcare workers have been relaxed after worries that Omicron could overwhelm understaffed hospitals.
Previously workers who tested positive were required to stay away from work for ten days.
Under the new guidelines they can return after seven days, providing they test negative and have no symptoms.
If there are severe staffing shortages isolation could be cut to five days or less, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Revellers will still ring in the new year in Times Square New York next week, but only 15,000 people as opposed to the usual 58,000 will be allowed in order to accommodate for social distancing.
In Germany, health minister Karl Lauterbach said Omicron will increase in the days ahead and appealed for people to take steps to avoid infection.
Chancellor Olaf Scholtz wrote on Twitter the festive period would be difficult but that the crisis could be overcome.
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In Thailand, the first cluster of Omicron infections has been reported while the government has cancelled state sponsored New Year festivities in Bangkok.