US President Joe Biden says vaccinated Americans can keep their Christmas plans

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Joe Biden gave Covid-19 update ahead of Christmas  (REUTERS)
Joe Biden gave Covid-19 update ahead of Christmas (REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden has said vaccinated Americans can keep their Christmas plans as he announced new steps to combat surging Covid cases.

During his televised address, Biden said people who have been vaccinated “should be comfortable celebrating Christmas and the holidays as you planned”.

The president said getting the vaccine was the “patriotic duty” of Americans as he made a plea for jabs.

He said: “You have an obligation to yourselves, to your family and quite frankly, I know I will be criticised for this, but to your country.

“I honest to god believe it’s your patriotic duty.”

Around 40 million adults in the US have yet to be vaccinated.

The president also urged the “tens of millions” who have been double jabbed but not yet had a booster dose to come forward.

He added: “I got my booster shot as soon as it was available and just the other day, President Trump announced he had got his booster shot - maybe one of the few things he and I agree on.”

Announcing new measures to combat surging cases driven by the Omicron variant, he said the Biden administration will be buying 500 million rapid tests to deliver to Americans for free. This will be available from January.

Biden also deployed an additional 1,000 military doctors, nurses and other health professionals to assist overburdened hospitals as well as federal stockpiling for medical equipment.

More testing sites will also be set up.

He is also considering reversing travel bans with Southern African countries and will discuss with advisers over the next couple of days.

Omicron is now the dominant Covid variant in the US and accounted for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said on Monday.

The first death from the variant was also announced in the US - a Texas man in his 50s with underlying health conditions who was unvaccinated.

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