the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 816,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 61.7% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Latest headlines:
Cases soar in Florida
CDC issues contingency plan for to prevent shortage of health care workers in event of major omicron surge
New York sees record-smashing 44,431 cases in 1 day
White House to lift travel restrictions on southern African countries
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Dec 26, 8:18 am
Israeli prime minister goes into quarantine after daughter tests positive

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is isolating at home after his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, his office said.

Bennett tested negative via an antigen test Sunday morning as he headed into his cabinet meeting, his office said. When he learned about his daughter, Bennett left the meeting.

Bennett will take a PCR test and stay isolated at home, away from his daughter, until he gets his results, his office said.

Bennett, 49, and his wife have four children.

Dec 26, 2:21 am
‘Everybody’ in Australia will get omicron, health minister says

New South Wales recorded a record 6,394 new coronavirus cases in Christmas Day, according to health officials.

“We would expect that pretty well everybody in New South Wales at some point will get omicron,” Brad Hazzard, state health minister, said during a press conference on Sunday.

Australia’s most populous state reported 32,728 new cases in the last week, marking a 172% increase from the 12,013 reported the week prior, according to public health data.

“We’re all going to get omicron,” Hazzard said. “If we’re all going to get omicron, the best way to face it is when we all have full vaccination, including our booster.”

Hazzard said he expects everyone in Australia to get omicron, but said health officials have seen “far milder” symptoms with omicron than with other COVID-19 variants.

“Please just think carefully before you, one, call an ambulance, or, two, ask to go to a hospital, or, three, go to hospital, because it may not be necessary,” Hazzard said.

Dec 25, 4:55 pm
American, Delta, JetBlue, United report impacts from omicron

Four of the five major U.S. airlines are reporting impacts from omicron.

PHOTO: Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced numerous flights were canceled during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Christmas Eve in Queens, New York, Dec. 24, 2021.
Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced num…Read More
PHOTO: Holiday travelers pass through Salt Lake City International Airport, Dec. 24, 2021, in Salt Lake City.
Holiday travelers pass through Salt Lake City International Airport, Dec. 24, 2021, in Salt Lake City.
American Airlines said Saturday that it canceled some Christmas Day flights due to “a number of COVID-related sick calls.”

Delta said Friday that omicron and weather contributed to cancellations. Up to 200 of 3,004 Christmas Day flights may be canceled, Delta said.

JetBlue also reported “a number of” canceled flights due to sick calls from omicron.

“Additional flight cancellations and other delays remain a possibility as we see more Omicron community spread,” JetBlue said.

United also said some flights were canceled because of omicron.

-ABC News’ Mina Kaji

Dec 25, 1:57 pm
France, Italy see new record highs

France recorded 104,611 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, setting a new record high, according to the national public health agency Santé Publique France. Saturday’s number is 10,487 cases higher than the tally from Friday, marking the largest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic.

Italy recorded 54,762 new cases in the last 24 hours. a new historic record since the start of the pandemic.

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