United States hits record Covid cases and hospitalisations with fears they will not slow in the run-up to Christmas

United States hits record Covid cases and hospitalisations with fears they will not slow in the run-up to Christmas

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The number of people in hospital with coronavirus has more than doubled since early November. The US has recorded new records for Covid infections and hospitalisations, with fears they will not slow in the run-up to Christmas.


The number of people in hospital passed 100,000 for the first time, a figure that has doubled since early November, Covid Tracking Project data showed.


Also on Wednesday new cases rose by a record 195,695. The daily death toll of 2,733 was also close to a new high.


Infections are closing in on 14 million, with more than 264,000 deaths.


These numbers have continued to soar in recent weeks, with around a million new infections reported every week in November. - equivalent to 99 every minute.


In response to surging numbers, US authorities have warned that the country's healthcare system faces an unprecedented strain this winter.


"The reality is that December, January and February are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued a stay-at-home order due to rising infections


California, Texas and Florida - the three most populous US states - are among the worst-affected areas of the country, and have each registered more than one million cases.


In the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an emergency order for residents to stay home with immediate affect, following an unprecedented surge of infections.


A similar order is already in place in Los Angeles county - the current epicentre of America's outbreak - where some hospitals are already approaching full capacity. Authorities reported 5,987 cases on Tuesday, bringing the county's total to 414,185.


US officials have said they expect infection numbers to continue rising over the next few days because many people travelled over the Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring government advice."Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving," said Cindy Friedman, chief of the travellers' health branch at the CDC.


"Even if only a small percentage of those people were carrying the disease and passed it on to other people, that can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections."

media captionFive challenges of distributing a Covid-19 vaccine around the world.


The CDC has urged people to refrain from travel over Christmas.


But the public health body has also relaxed its guidelines for how long people should quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person - shortening it from 14 days to between seven and 10.


Although the number of deaths is still rising, one set of brighter figures is that of deaths in relation to infections.


The CDC says the share of cases resulting in death fell from 6.7% in April to 1.9% in September, reflecting that health workers are now more successful in treating the disease.


On Wednesday, top Democratic lawmakers signalled support for a $908bn (£677bn) coronavirus relief framework - a major concession following months of deadlock with Republicans over policy disagreements.


Exact details of the framework have yet to be publicly disclosed, but it broadly includes funding for state and local governments, unemployment benefits, small businesses and other areas of the economy impacted by the outbreak.



                                                                
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