Crazy scenes as people fight for Covid tests amid Omicron outbreak

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People have been seen fighting over Covid-19 tests in New York amid an outbreak of the Omicron variant.

Crowds were formed in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve to receive Covid-19 testing kits from city workers distributing them along Flatbush Avenue.

New York City is handing out thousands of the kits, which include two tests per box, in order to lessen the surge of people in long lines at testing sites.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday told reporters “it’s going to be a very challenging few weeks” as the city battles the Omicron variant.

“We’re going to see a really fast upsurge in cases, we’re going to see a lot of New Yorkers affected by Omicron,” he said.

People form a large crowd as they attempt to receive COVID-19 testing kits from city workers distributing the kits along Flatbush Avenue in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
A crowd forms in Brooklyn as people try to obtain a Covid-19 test. Source: Getty Images

New York recorded 32,591 new cases of Covid-19 on Christmas Eve, according to the New York Times.

It’s led to frantic scenes on the streets with people struggling to get access to tests.

Five sites had 2000 tests to give away, including in the Bronx and Manhattan, NBC 4 New York reported.

Other sites are offering test results within hours – one offered a result within two hours for A$539.

Resident Kevin Bruyneel told The Guardian the reason for the chaotic testing crowds was because people required them ahead of travelling for the holidays.

“There were a lot of people in line, incredibly desperate to get tested because they were flying,” he told The Guardian.

“There was a lot of anxiety.”

People form a large crowd as they attempt to receive COVID-19 testing kits from city workers distributing the kits along Flatbush Avenue in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Each site was offering 2000 tests for free. Source: Getty Images

Airlines have also been forced to cancel flights as the omicron variant jumbled schedules and drew down staffing levels at some carriers during the busy holiday travel season.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines together cancelled more than 600 flights on Friday and Saturday.

As of early evening Friday, Delta cancelled 149 flights on Friday and 188 for Christmas Day, according to FlightAware. Other factors, such as weather, are also causing cancellations.

United called off 189 flights on Friday, about 10 per cent of its schedule, and 140 on Saturday. Planned cancellations continued into Sunday.

Not all airlines said Covid was disrupting their travel schedules. American Airlines said it had “nothing to report,” while Southwest Airlines said “things are running smoothly.”

JetBlue, which FlightAware said had cancelled nearly 150 flights over Friday and Saturday, did not respond to a request for comment.

with The Associated Press

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