As the new Omicron Covid-19 variant is increasing single-day cases to the highest level in the US, major cities, including New York, have scaled down or cancelled New Year’s Eve events for a second consecutive year.
The fuelling record surges has prompted government to “reinstate travel restrictions, mask mandates and bans on large gatherings”, Xinhua news agency quoted The New York Times as saying in a report on Tuesday.
Fox News has cancelled “New Year’s Eve Toast & Roast 2022” live broadcast from Times Square, as the network said in a statement issued on Tuesday that “the recent velocity of the spread of Omicron cases has made it impossible to produce a live special in Times Square that meets our standards”.
The annual celebration in Times Square in New York will go on, with attendance capped at 15,000, nearly a quarter of the usual amount.
Attendees will be required to wear masks and show proof of full vaccination.
In California, several Los Angeles County holiday events have been cancelled, including the New Year’s countdown in Grand Park, which will now be streamed.
The Space Needle’s fireworks show in Seattle will also be streamed.
Over the past three weeks, as Omicron-related cases soared in New York City and elsewhere, the number of children hospitalised in New York with Covid-19 quadrupled.
The lightning spread of the new variant has driven daily Covid-19 new cases to a record high of over 510,000, which is the highest single-day increase of cases since the onset of the pandemic in the country, according to latest data of Johns Hopkins University.
A total of 512,553 new cases and 1,762 new deaths were reported across the country on Monday.
Over the past week, nearly 1,660,000 new cases and over 10,000 new deaths were added to the tally, the University’s data revealed.
The first known case of the Omicron variant in the US was identified on December 1. Since then, the variant has been detected in most US states and territories, and is rapidly increasing the proportion of Covid-19 cases it is causing.
The Omicron variant was estimated to account for 58.6 per cent of coronavirus variants circulating in the US for the week ending December 25, according to new data released Tuesday by the CDC.
As of Wednesday morning, the US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 53,170,421 and 820,708.