COVID-19: Flights are grounded due to the Omicron surge, causing holiday plans to be delayed

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    As the number of COVID infections rises, holiday travel plans throughout the world are being disrupted, with thousands of flights being cancelled for the Christmas weekend.

    Airlines have blamed a shortage of healthy staff for the cancellations of nearly 2,400 flights on Friday and more than 2,300 on Saturday. More than 800 flights were cancelled on Saturday, the majority of which were to or from US airports.

    Despite early indications indicating Omicron is milder than other types, scientists are concerned about the large number of illnesses that have been reported.

    Many flights have been cancelled as a result of airline employees testing positive for the virus or being compelled to self-isolate to prevent the infection from spreading.

    Cases have increased dramatically in the United States, as they have in many other nations throughout the world.

    However, except for insignificant cluster epidemics or prisons, COVID contact tracking has been discontinued in South Africa, where the Omicron form was first found.

    Because the majority of the population has already been exposed to the coronavirus, the health department said that the policy would now move from containment to mitigation, which will include self-monitoring, mask-wearing, and social distancing.

    Because of concerns about the Omicron type, the United States had already announced that on December 31, it will lift travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and seven other African countries.

    Even among fully vaccinated people, Christmas travel would spread the variation. However, many of people’s plans were disrupted as flights across the country were cancelled or delayed.

    The most severely impacted US airlines are Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines. More than 4,700 flights planned to depart on Friday and Saturday have been cancelled worldwide. Over 100 domestic flights from Sydney and Melbourne to rural towns were cancelled on Friday, disrupting tens of thousands of festive journeys across Australia.

    Meanwhile, stranded Britons in Australia have been making the best of their predicament by relaxing on Bondi Beach in Sydney. According to Johns Hopkins University in the United States, coronavirus has killed over 5.3 million people globally. There have been 279 million cases that have been confirmed.