Thousands of flights around the world have been canceled as Omicron celebrates Christmas weekend. Reuters

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© Reuters. Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced that many flights had been canceled during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Christmas Eve in Queens, New York, USA, December 24, 2021. REUTERS // Dieu-Nali

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Author: Arriana McLymore

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Commercial airlines around the world have canceled more than 4,500 flights over the Christmas weekend as a growing wave of COVID-19 contagion fueled by the Omicron variant created more uncertainty and misery for holidaymakers.

Airlines around the world on Friday canceled at least 2,401 flights, which fell on Christmas Eve and which is typically a difficult day for air travel, according to data on the flight tracking website FlightAware.com. Almost 10,000 more flights have been delayed.

The website showed that 1,779 flights for Christmas were canceled worldwide, along with another 402 that were scheduled for Sunday.

Commercial air traffic within the United States and inside or outside the country accounted for more than a quarter of all canceled flights over the weekend, FlightAware data showed.

Among the first U.S. carriers to report a wave of weekend cancellations were United Airlines and Delta Air Lines :), which canceled nearly 280 flights together on Friday alone, citing a shortage of staff amid rising COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 infections have jumped in the United States in recent days due to the highly portable variant Omicron, which was first discovered in November and now accounts for nearly three-quarters of cases in the U.S. and as many as 90% in some areas, such as the East Coast.

The average number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose 45 percent to 179,000 a day last week, according to Reuters.

New York reported more than 44,000 newly confirmed infections on Friday alone, breaking the state’s daily record. At least 10 other states set up new one-day case records on Thursday or Friday.

An increasing number of hospitalizations have hit healthcare systems particularly hard in the Midwestern U.S., and intensive care units in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan are preparing for the worst, although they are still under pressure from an earlier wave of Delta variant cases.

In Britain, many industries and transport networks struggled with staff shortages while sick workers were self-isolated, while hospitals warned of the risk of affecting patient safety.

One in 20 London residents suffered from COVID-19 last week, a figure that could rise to one in 10 early next week, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday. https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/one-10-londoners-likely-infected-with-covid-ons-models-2021-12-24

Government figures showed a record number of 122,186 new infections nationwide on Friday, the third day the number of known cases has exceeded 100,000.

Although recent research suggests that Omicron causes milder disease and a lower hospitalization rate than previous variants of COVID-19, health officials have maintained caution regarding appearance.

“There is a glimmer of Christmas hope … but it is definitely not yet at a point where we can reduce this serious threat,” Jenny Harries, head of the British health agency, told the BBC.

France on Friday set another record for infected COVID-19s, with a daily number of more than 94,000, while hospitalizations due to the virus reached a seven-month high, prompting the government to convene a special meeting on Monday that could trigger new public restrictions. health.

Despite uncertainties and gloomy news around the world, millions of Americans have continued their plans to travel through the second season of a holiday darkened by a pandemic.

Moses Jimenez, an accountant from Long Beach, Mississippi, flew to New York with his wife and three children, although the latest flood of coronavirus cases has shattered their hopes of catching a Hamilton show on Broadway or visiting some museums.

“Hamilton” was one of a dozen productions that canceled shows this week because the actors and team members were positive on COVID-19. Museums have been thrown out of the family itinerary because many now require proof of vaccination, and two younger children are not eligible for vaccination.

Instead, Jimenez, 33, said his litter would do everything from wandering the city streets and parks, while seeing relatives and friends.

“We just wanted to get out of the house, really, take the kids to town for Christmas,” Jimenez told Reuters on Thursday at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

New York has planned to severely limit the number of people it allows in Times Square for its annual open-air New Year celebration, in response to a rise in new coronavirus cases https://www.reuters.com/world/us/new-york -city-scale -down-new Years-eve-celebrations-times-square-2021-12-23, with a limit of 15,000 participants.

The Biden administration will next week lift travel restrictions in eight South African countries introduced last month due to concerns about the Omicron variant, the White House said https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/exclusive-us-lift-travel-rubnjaci- osam -african-countries-source-2021-12-24.

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