Omicron Deaths Reported in 3 Countries So Far; Experts Warn of More Fatalities

Israel health officials on Tuesday reported what is believed to be the country’s first death from the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Soroka Hospital, located in the southern city of Beersheba, said a man in his 60s died on Monday, two weeks after he was hospitalised. It said the man had suffered from pre-existing health issues but gave no further details.

Meanwhile, the country is also set to begin rolling out a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine with immediate effect, a CNN report said. The additional dose will be given to people over 60 years-old, medical workers, and people with a suppressed immune system, the prime minister’s office announced, following a recommendation from the country’s panel of coronavirus experts. The recommended gap between a second and third dose is also being shortened from five months to three months, the report said.

As Omicron cases are piling up in Europe, experts caution against going all out with Christmas, New Year celebrations. Christmas get-togethers may need to be downsized as Omicron is now “very likely” to increase the death toll in Europe even if it proves to be less severe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said. The new Covid variant’s high transmissibility means that more people are forecast by the EU agency to be admitted to hospital or killed this winter than previously projected.

“We assess the probability of further spread of the Omicron variant in the EU/European economic area as very high, and it is considered very likely to cause additional hospitalisations and fatalities, further to those already expected from previous forecasts that consider only the Delta variant,” Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the ECDC, was quoted by Guardian as saying.

United Kingdom

Britain’s deputy prime minister Dominic Raab on Monday said 12 people infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus have died in the United Kingdom, refusing to rule out further restrictions before Christmas. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant ahead of the festival has put the British government in a spot even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out possibility of a lockdown before Christmas.

“We don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas,” he said on Tuesday.

United States

The US on Tuesday reported its first death due to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Texas, according to health officials. A man in the US state of Texas, who was in his 50s, was unvaccinated and had previously been infected with COVID-19, according to a release from Harris County Public Health.

The case is the first known confirmed Omicron-related death in the United States, CNN reported. “The individual was at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to his unvaccinated status and had underlying health conditions,” the release said. County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the death on Monday, saying the man was in his 50s.

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