New York sees increase in hospitalised children as Omicron hammers US

Four-fold increase registered in Covid-19 hospital admissions for children aged 18 and below



People check their rapid Covid-19 test results outside of a testing site on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. — AP
People check their rapid Covid-19 test results outside of a testing site on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. — AP

By AFP

Published: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 2:32 AM

With Omicron cases on the rise, New York health officials have reported an increase in hospitalised children, as the White House promised on Sunday to quickly resolve the United States’ Covid-19 test shortage.

The New York State Department of Health warned “of an upward trend in paediatric hospitalisations associated with Covid-19,” in a statement on Friday.

In New York City, it “identified four-fold increases in Covid-19 hospital admissions for children 18 and under beginning the week of December 5 through the current week,” it said.

Approximately half of the admissions are younger than five, an age group that is vaccine ineligible, the department added.

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The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States is on the rise, with an average of nearly 190,000 new infections daily over the past seven days, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The arrival of the new Omicron variant, compounded by holiday celebrations that typically include travel and family reunions, have caused a rush on tests in the United States, where it is difficult to get one in many locations.

Top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci on Sunday acknowledged a Covid “testing problem” and vowed to make more tests available to Americans next month.

“One of the problems is that that’s not going to be totally available to everyone until we get to January and there are still some issues now of people having trouble getting tested,” Fauci told ABC News.

“But we’re addressing the testing problem,” he added, saying it should be corrected “very soon.”

Apart from overwhelming hospitals and Covid testing sites, the Covid variant has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the United States, as crews called in sick or had to quarantine after exposure to the virus.

Recent studies in South Africa and Britain indicate that Omicron was less likely to lead to hospitalisation than the previous strains of the virus and that the duration of hospital stays and oxygen needs for patients were lower, Fauci noted.

But he also warned that Omicron’s apparent lower severity is likely to be neutralized by how fast it is spreading.

AFP


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