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The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

London Cancels New Year's Celebrations in Trafalgar Square Amid Omicron Fears

© AP Photo / Kirsty WigglesworthFireworks explode over the London Eye during the New Year's eve celebrations after midnight in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019
Fireworks explode over the London Eye during the New Year's eve celebrations after midnight in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.12.2021
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The UK capital previously planned to hold a special event instead of a traditional fireworks display due to the rising number of infections.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that holiday celebrations in Trafalgar Square won't be held on New Year's eve "in the interests of public safety" and urged people to spend the holiday watching TV.

"This will be very disappointing for many Londoners, but we must take the right steps to reduce the spread of the virus... I'm proud that we will still have an incredible broadcast spectacular to watch on our screens, which will showcase our great city to the rest of the world".

According to Khan, some 65,500 new coronavirus cases have been registered in London over the past week, causing a 29% increase in hospital admissions.
The decision was announced after government experts called for tougher restrictions earlier this month, saying that otherwise, the daily number of new cases could reach between 600,000 and two million by the end of December.
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