News | Coronavirus: New York sees an increase in child hospitalizations

By La Provence (with AFP)

The Omicron variant continues to spread in the United States, where health authorities in New York are seeing an increase in the number of children hospitalized in connection with Covid-19, while the White House on Sunday promised to quickly resolve the shortage of testing in the country.

The New York State Department of Health “closely monitoring an upward trend in pediatric hospitalizations associated with Covid-19, according to a statement released on Friday.

“The largest increase is in New York City with admissions quadrupling” between the week of December 5 and that of December 19, it is specified. Half of these admissions concern children under the age of 5, who are therefore not yet old enough to be vaccinated.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States continues to rise, with nearly 190,000 new daily cases over the past seven days on average, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The arrival of the new variant, and the end-of-year celebrations, synonymous with travel and family reunions, caused a rush on tests in the United States, where it is difficult in some places to obtain it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top pandemic adviser, assured that this shortage would soon be resolved. “One of the issues right now is that (the tests) won’t be fully available to everyone until January”, the epidemiologist told ABC. “But we are tackling the problem of testing, and that, very soon, will be fixed”, he continued, also acknowledging his frustration with these supply issues.

President Joe Biden resolved last week to announce massive purchases of tests by the federal state: 500 million kits, which will be distributed free of charge to anyone who requests them. But these tests will not be delivered until January, which is fueling strong criticism of the White House, whose strategy to fight Covid-19 has for weeks been mainly focused on vaccination.

US executive spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked on December 6, days after Omicron was first detected in the United States, about the difficulty of accessing tests in the country. She had contented herself with ironizing: “We should send a free test to all Americans, right?”

Dr. Fauci also spoke on the issue of the Omicron variant and its dangerousness.

Recognizing how important Omicron is “extraordinarily contagious”, he however welcomed the data from studies in South Africa and the United Kingdom which seem to indicate a lower dangerousness of the cases. “When you have such a volume of new infections, it could exceed the actual decrease in dangerousness”, he however warned, fearing a congestion of the hospital system.

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