Representative image Photograph:( AFP )
A global record was set on Monday by the United States with 1,080,211 cases reported, dwarfing even the high numbers of these countries
A record number of COVID-19 cases has been reported in the US, United Kingdom, France, and Australia as the WHO warned that Omicron's rapid spread could lead to the spread of new, more dangerous variants.
On Tuesday, Britain reached 200,000 cases for the first time, Australia posted almost 50,000, and France tallied over 270,000, easily surpassing their previous records.
A global record was set on Monday by the United States with 1,080,211 cases reported, dwarfing even the high numbers of these countries.
Due to weekend tally delays, Monday's figures are usually higher than those of the weekend and may have been inflated by a three-day New Year's holiday weekend.
As of Monday evening, Johns Hopkins University reported that the rolling average over seven days, which experts deem more reliable, was 486,000 cases per day.
The Omicron variant, the most transmissible to date, accounted for around 59 per cent of cases in the United States near the end of last year.
Deaths and hospitalizations due to Omicron have been lower across the world, which raises hopes that the virus could be evolving into a relatively benign seasonal illness.
In Europe, the World Health Organization sounded an ominous note of caution on Tuesday, warning that the soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect.
"The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant," said WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood.
"Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death... maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who's to say what the next variant might throw out," she added.
"Even in well-capacitated, sophisticated health systems, there are real struggles that are happening at the moment."
In Britain, where the government announced Tuesday that hospitals were on "war footing" due to staff shortages, such a scenario has long been feared.
In the wake of a record number of 218,724 cases in 24 hours in the UK, President Boris Johnson promised action to plug staff shortages in the worst-hit areas, including the recruitment of medical volunteers backed by army support.
Johnson also said another nationwide lockdown is unlikely in England defending his decision not to increase restrictions over the festive season unlike other parts of the country.
Watch | Omicron: Australia's COVID-19 infections have hit a record high for the third consecutive day
With over 47,700 cases, Australia has also smashed its previous caseload record.
Rich nations have rushed to give their populations the third booster shot in an effort to curb the rising cases, while the poorest nations have only been able to receive the first.
Ahead of the pack, Israel has already begun rolling out the fourth dose last week.
(With inputs from agencies)