Thousands of flights were canceled globally during Omicron March on the Christmas weekend

NEW YORK, Dec. 24 (Reuters) – Commercial airlines around the world canceled more than 4,500 flights over the Christmas weekend, as a surge of COVID-19 infection driven by Omicron variants created greater uncertainty and misery for day travelers. the holidays.

Airlines globally eliminated at least 2,401 flights on Friday, which fell on Christmas Eve and is usually a heavy day for air travel, according to a count on FlightAware.com website to track flights. Nearly 10,000 more flights were delayed.

The website showed that 1,779 Christmas Day flights were suspended worldwide, with 402 more scheduled for Sunday.

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FlightAware data showed that commercial air traffic to and from the United States accounted for more than a quarter of all flights canceled over the weekend.

Among the first U.S. carriers to report a wave of weekend cancellations were United Airlines and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), which eliminated nearly 280 flights together on Friday alone, citing staff shortages amid waves of infections. COVID-19 la.

COVID-19 infections have increased in the United States in recent days due to the highly transmissible variant Omicron, which was first detected in November and now accounts for nearly three-quarters of the U.S. and as much as 90% in some areas, such as the Eastern Seaboard. . he more

The average number of new cases of coronary heart disease has increased 45% to 179,000 per day over the past week, according to a Reuters count.

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 new case records a day on Thursday or Friday.

Rising hospitalizations have hit health care systems especially hard in the Midwestern U.S., and intensive care units in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan are preparing for the worst even when they remain under pressure from an earlier wave of Delta variant cases.

In Britain, many industries and transport networks have struggled with staff shortages because sick workers have isolated themselves, while hospitals have warned of the risk of an impact on patient safety. he more

One in 20 Londoners had COVID-19 last week, a figure that could rise to one in 10 early next week, according to data released Thursday by the National Statistics Office.

Passengers make their way to John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced many flights were canceled during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Christmas Eve in Queens, New York City, United States, December 24, 2021. REUTERS / Dieu-Nalio Chery

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

While recent research suggests Omicron produces more moderate disease, with a lower rate of hospitalization, than previous variants of COVID-19, health officials have maintained a cautious note on the outlook.

“There’s a glimmer of hope for Christmas … but it’s definitely not yet the point where we could bring down this serious threat,” Jenny Harries, head of the UK’s Health Security Agency, told the BBC.

France hit another COVID-19 infection record on Friday, with its daily number exceeding 94,000 while hospitalizations of the virus reached a seven-month high, prompting the government to convene a special meeting on Monday that could trigger new public health restrictions. he more

Despite the uncertainties and terrible news around the world, millions of Americans have continued with travel plans through a second holiday season with cloud pandemics.

Moses Jimenez, an accountant from Long Beach, Mississippi, flew to New York with his wife and three children, even though the latest torrent of coronavirus cases shattered their hopes of taking a Broadway performance in “Hamilton” or visiting some museums.

“Hamilton” was one of a dozen productions that canceled broadcasts this week while cast and crew tested positive for COVID-19. Museums have been scratched in the family’s way because now many need proof of vaccination and two younger children are not eligible for the vaccine.

Instead, Jimenez, 33, said his children will do better in roaming the streets and city parks, while seeing family and friends as well.

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

New York planned to severely limit the number of people allowed in Times Square for its annual New Year’s Eve celebration outside, in response to new waves of coronavirus cases, limiting the number of participants to 15,000.

The Biden administration will next week lift travel restrictions on eight South African countries imposed last month on concerns over the Omicron variant, the White House said.

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Reported by Alistair Bell, Arriana McLymore, David Ljunggren, Maria Caspani and David Shepardson; Additional writing and reporting by Steve Gorman of Los Angeles; Edited by Howard Goller, Diane Craft and Sandra Maler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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