The COVID-19 pandemic continues through to its third year and has led to the cancellation of about 4,500 flights over the Christmas weekend.
Airline companies scrapped about 2,401 flights globally on Christmas Eve, Friday. This is the usual period that people travel to celebrate the festive period with family and friends.
According to an analysis gotten from FlightAware.com, some 10,000 flights were also delayed on Friday alone.
Still, on the analysis, the website showed that about 1,1779 Christmas Day flights were called off globally while other 402 more had to be rescheduled for Sunday.
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Commercial air traffic within the United States and into or out of the country accounted for more than a quarter of all the canceled flights over the weekend, FlightAware data showed.
Airlines to report the wave of holiday weekend cancellation were companies like United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both of which canceled about 280 flights combined on Friday alone.
One of the main reasons for the cancellation is due to personnel shortages due to an increase in COVID-19 infections.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has increased sporadically in recent days and the majority of the cases are of the Omicron variant which is highly transmissible.
Despite being discovered back in November in South Africa, it now accounts for nearly three-quarters of US cases and as many as 90% in other areas such as Eastern Seaboard.
It has gotten so bad to the point that the average number of new COVID-19 cases in the country has risen 45% to 179,00 cases each day over the past week.
Take New York as an example, the state has recorded over 44,000 newly confirmed infections on Friday alone – shattering the state’s daily record.
The case of infection continues to spread across other states with about 10 of them setting new one-day records on either Thursday or Friday.
The increase in hospitalization also hit healthcare systems especially in the US Midwest with intensive care units in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan all bracing for the unknown despite being under pressure from the early wave of the Delta variant cases.
Away from the United States, many industries and transportation networks in the United Kingdom were recently hit with a shortage of personnel due to workers’ self-isolating due to exposure to COVID-19 or being infected.
Hospitals have however warned of the risk of an impact on patients’ safety over such a shortage.
At least, one in every 20 Londoners reported COVID-19 this past week – a figure that is predicted to increase to about 1 in 10 by next week, according to data released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics.
Government data showed a record tally of about 122,186 new cases nationwide on Friday which marks the third day in which the number of known cases has surpassed 100,000.
Although earlier researches suggested that the Omicron variant only produces milder illnesses and a lower rate of hospitalization when compared to previous variants, health officials have continued to put the Omicron variant as a matter of concern.
“There is a glimmer of Christmas hope … but it definitely isn’t yet at the point where we could downgrade that serious threat,” Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, told the BBC.
Another region hit hard with COVID-19 cases is France with an exceeding daily tally of 94,000 while hospitalization from the virus reached a seven-month high.
This has caused the French government to schedule a special meeting for Monday and the outcome could trigger new public health restrictions.
Despite the uncertainties and grim news around the world, millions of Americans carried on with travel plans through a second pandemic-clouded holiday season.
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 dashed their hopes of catching a Broadway performance of “Hamilton” or visiting some museums.
This was one of many productions that were called off this week because cast and crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
In fact, museums were scratched from the family’s itinerary over the requirement for proof of vaccination while Jimenez’s two younger childer were ineligible for the vaccine.
Instead, Jimenez, 33, said his brood will make the best of roaming the city’s streets and parks, while also seeing relatives and friends.
“We just wanted to get out of the house, really, get the kids out to the city for Christmas,” Jimenez told Reuters on Thursday at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
In order to curb the spread of the raging Omicron variant, New York state officials plan to limit the number of individuals that will be allowed in Times Sqaure for its annual outdoor New Year’s Eve celebration.
Another news is that the Biden Administration will lift travel restrictions on eight southern African countries imposed last month over concerns of the Omicron variant.