Puerto rico government

Omicron variant begins to appear nationwide, CDC says

The US system has been relatively slow to accommodate cases of the variant, possibly due in part to travel habits or restrictive entry rules to the United States. But the system is also constrained by blind spots and delays.

Last week, the CDC reported that of the 43 known infections detected in the United States in the first eight days of December, 34 of the patients, or 79%, had been fully vaccinated when they started showing symptoms or have tested positive. Only about a third of the 43 people had traveled abroad in the two weeks prior to diagnosis, indicating some level of community spread of the variant.

The fight against Omicron may require the federal government to replenish funding for the response, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra suggested on Tuesday. Mr Becerra told reporters there was about $ 10 billion left of the $ 50 billion Congress had allocated for testing.

For public health laboratories, as for hospitals, staffing can be a challenge, Becker said.

“These are the same staff who do the molecular testing, genomic sequencing and influenza surveillance,” he said. “We’re already overloaded, so we need to start thinking about alternative plans, temporary staff, bringing in people who helped at peak events last year. “

“The lab community is tired,” added Becker. “The healthcare community is tired. “Gear up, we might have another push,” is a difficult message to hear. ”

In Europe, health officials have warned of a spike in Omicron cases. According to estimates on Monday, cases of the variant in Denmark, which are similar to the United States in terms of vaccination rates and average age, were doubling every other day.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, told a press briefing on Tuesday that “Omicron is spreading at a rate that we have not seen with any previous variant.”