Biden to issue 'stark warning' as Covid-19 cases surge in US

President to deliver speech on Tuesday to address new Omicron variant

People wait in a queue to enter a health clinic offering Covid-19 testing in New York as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread. Reuters

Live updates: follow the latest news on Covid-19 variant Omicron

US President Joe Biden is set to announce new measures against Covid-19 amid a new surge in cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Mr Biden is expected to deliver a “stark warning” of what the winter will look like for unvaccinated Americans, NBC reported. He will also urge those currently vaccinated to receive a booster shot.

To date, 61.4 per cent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, data from the US Centres for Disease Control show. More than 60 million Americans have received a booster shot.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that the new strategy will also focus on increased testing.

“We really need to flood the system with testing. We need to have tests available for anyone who wants them,” Dr Fauci said.

The president this month introduced a multi-step plan to combat Covid-19 this winter, including easier access to vaccines and boosters, supplying free testing for those without health insurance and extending the federal mask mandate through mid-March.

But a resurgence in Covid-19 cases has threatened to upend holiday plans, forced some states to reinstitute mask mandates and led to the postponement of numerous sporting events.

News organisation CNN has closed its offices to non-essential employees, and Google and Uber are two of a handful of major companies to push back return-to-office dates.

The US is averaging more than 132,000 new cases per day, data from Reuters show, as Americans rush to be tested, leading to long queues at pharmacies and drive-through sites.

Though the Delta variant still remains prevalent in the US, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky predicted that Omicron would soon become the “dominant strain".

Breakthrough infections of the Omicron variant have been reported in some who are fully inoculated, but vaccines have so far remained effective at preventing severe disease, the CDC said.

It is still too early to assess whether Omicron is deadlier than the Delta variant.

To date, more than 800,000 people have perished from coronavirus.

Updated: December 20th 2021, 4:00 PM