Washington: While half a million people around the world have died of COVID-19 since the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first detected in November, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser says the United States is exiting “the full-blown pandemic phase” of the coronavirus crisis.
It’s a sobering statistic – and a reminder of the pandemic’s ongoing toll even as cases start to decline in nearly every US state.
About 100,000 of the deaths since Omicron was declared a “variant of concern” occurred in the United States, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday. WHO incident manager Abdi Mahamud said in an online Q&A session said the death toll is “tragic” given the availability of “effective vaccines.” He said there have been 130 million reported cases of the coronavirus globally since Omicron.
Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times that decisions on coronavirus restrictions in the United States will be increasingly made on a local level, “as we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of”.
“There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus,” he told the newspaper.
A requirement that students, teachers and staff wear masks in Massachusetts schools will end on February 28, Governor Charlie Baker said on Thursday AEDT, joining a growing list of state leaders planning to lift face-covering rules as the latest COVID-19 surge eases.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said her state would stop requiring people to wear a mask or prove they had received a COVID-19 vaccine when entering most indoor public places, starting on Friday AEDT.
In the United States, COVID-19 cases declined 44 per cent in the past week compared to the previous seven days, according to a Washington Post tracker, and hospitalisations related to COVID-19 also declined over the same period.