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Live updates: The coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant

Emma Johnson 18 December 25, 2021

8 hr 38 min ago

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad in Nice

Patients wait to be tested for the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in Paris on December 23, 2021.
Patients wait to be tested for the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in Paris on December 23, 2021. (Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images)

France reported a record-breaking 104,611 Covid-19 cases on Saturday — the highest daily number since the pandemic began and the first-time numbers have broken the 100,000 threshold, according to health ministry data. 

On Friday, the French government announced that President Emmanuel Macron will host a virtual meeting with ministers on Monday to discuss the coronavirus crisis. 

10 hr 18 min ago

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Nicola Ruotolo

Italy reported its third consecutive day of record-breaking new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, according to health ministry data. 

With 54,762 new daily Covid-19 cases on Saturday, this is the highest daily figure since the pandemic began. That's up from Friday’s record of 50,599, which itself had surpassed the previous day’s record 44,595 cases. 

The country also reported a further 144 deaths and 33 more patients in intensive care units on Saturday.

8 hr 33 min ago

From CNN's Sonnet Swire

Travellers go through the south security checkpoint in the terminal of Denver International Airport Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in Denver.
Travellers go through the south security checkpoint in the terminal of Denver International Airport Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

While air travel this year had been approaching, and at times exceeding 2019 levels, Christmas Eve air travel fell sharply with more than 1.7 million people passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints Friday versus nearly 2.6 million two years ago amid last-minute flight cancellations due to the Omicron surge.

“TSA screened 1,709,601 people at airport checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Christmas Eve,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted Saturday.

That number is higher than the 846,520 people the agency screened on Christmas Eve of last year. But it is more than 800,000 fewer people than the TSA screened on the same day in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights this Christmas weekend as staff and crew call out sick during the Omicron surge. On the Wednesday before the holiday, there were more people traveling through US airports than in 2019. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million people at airports across the country on Thursday — the highest figure of the week.

CNN previously reported that, globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve day, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.

11 hr 31 min ago

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Airlines have canceled thousands of flights on Christmas weekend, including over a thousand US domestic flights, as staff and crew call out sick during the Omicron surge.

Globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve day, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.

Operational snags at airlines are coming as millions are still flying in spite of rising coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million people at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.

You can read more about flight cancellations here.

8 hr 28 min ago

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi and Nicola Ruotolo

(Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)
(Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has called the pandemic a “complex crisis” which has tested social relationships and increased tendencies of withdrawal.

“Our capacity for social relationships is sorely tired,” Pope Francis said in his traditional Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World) message at the Vatican.

"There is a growing tendency to withdraw, to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and do things together," the leader of the Catholic Church told the crowds gathered at St. Peter's Square.

Speaking from the balcony overlooking the square, Francis urged people to work together to tackle the pandemic:

God-with-us, grant health to the infirm and inspire all men and women of good will to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects. Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most. Repay those who generously devote themselves to caring for family members, the sick and the most vulnerable in our midst.
13 hr 40 min ago

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

At least 1,045 flights have been canceled Christmas Day and Sunday, according to FlightAware

Delta, United and JetBlue were among the airlines to cancel flights and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is among the airports most impacted by the cancelations, according to FlightAware.

14 hr 23 min ago

From CNN's Aya Elamroussi

As the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread across the US this holiday season, the rate of daily Covid-19 cases detected has eclipsed those fueled by the Delta variant over the summer.

Covid-19 hospitalizations remain relatively lower than peaks earlier this year, yet the situation may worsen as tens of millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, putting them at higher risk for complications and death.

Health and government officials have been warning that the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm hospitals and health care workers.

"Although hospitalizations may be less, that doesn't mean zero. There are many places in the country where hospitalizations now are increasing," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN on Friday.

15 hr 6 min ago

From CNN's Maureen O'Hare

The Omicron variant is sweeping the globe, wreaking havoc on holiday plans at the 11th hour. In the UK, which has logged a record number of new cases this week, even the Queen has had to switch up her Christmas tradition.

In the US, thousands of travelers got some very bad news on Thursday evening: Their Christmas Eve flights had been canceled. Delta and United Airlines cited Omicron as a cause of the disruptions. Many Australians were in the same situation. By Friday, thousands of flights were canceled globally.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added eight new destinations to its highest-risk category for travel. They include Finland, Lebanon and the country that was the world's second most-visited nation before Covid came along.

The microstates of Monaco and San Marino -- two of the world's wealthiest countries -- shot straight up to the highest-risk Level 4 on Monday, having previously been categorized "Unknown."

Read all the latest pandemic travel news here.

15 hr 41 min ago

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise and the Omicron variant sweeps the world, some nations are rolling out fourth doses of coronavirus vaccine for the most vulnerable people.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office announced this week that adults 60 and older, medical workers and people with suppressed immune systems could receive a fourth dose if at least four months have passed since their third dose.

On Thursday, Germany's health minister Karl Lauterbach said that a fourth dose will be needed to maintain protection against the Omicron variant, though the country has not yet initiated a rollout of fourth doses.

Meanwhile in the United States, it's too early to be discussing a potential fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine for most people, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday.