South Africa has relaxed a number of coronavirus brakes, although it has been hit by a fourth wave of cases caused by the Omicron variant, contact tracing for anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person. being also lifted,
Thailand, meanwhile, reported its first Omicron cluster in the northeastern province of Kalasin, saying 21 infections came from a Belgian couple who visited the country earlier this month.
In Europe, Italy has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors and Greece has ordered people to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors. In South America, Ecuador has made vaccines compulsory for almost everyone to fight coronavirus infections that are on the rise around the world just before the Christmas holidays.
Here are the latest updates for Friday:
The French regulator recommends reminders 3 months after the first course
The French regulator of the Haute Autorité de Santé said COVID-19 boosters could be administered three months after the first full cycle of shooting.
The new recommendation was issued as part of an ongoing effort to try to curb the spread of Omicron in the country.
Japanese panel approves Merck’s oral COVID treatment
Japanese regulators have approved the COVID-19 antiviral pill developed by Merck & Co Inc, national broadcaster NHK reported.
The approval was widely awaited and opens the door to shipments of 200,000 doses across the country from this weekend, based on the preparations announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Duterte ‘nervous’ as Philippines brace for Omicron
President Rodrigo Duterte said he feared Omicron could trigger a new epidemic that could further strain government finances, especially after a powerful and deadly typhoon devastated several provinces in central and southern Africa. last week.
“I’m afraid it could be as bad as the previous viral strains. I’m kind of nervous because, let me be frank with the public, the Philippines’ finances are really depleted, ”he said.
Health officials have detected only three omicron infections among recently arrived Filipino and foreign travelers, but the government has recalled its decision to reopen the Southeast Asian nation to foreign tourists from December 1 and to further scale up a vaccination campaign – including the provision of boosters.
South Africa to immediately deploy COVID-19 boosters
South Africa to begin offering booster shots of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine from Friday, the Department of Health said in a statement, following approval of its use as a reminder by the health regulator a day earlier.
J&J and Pfizer COVID-19 injections have been approved as boosters by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), but the move opens the boosters to the general public for the first time.
“From December 24, 2021, the national immunization program will provide J&J booster vaccines to anyone who received their last dose at least 2 months before,” the statement said, adding that ideally it would also be within six months. following their initial injection.
With immediate effect, the health service has also lifted contact tracing for anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person.
The previously mandatory self-isolation has been lifted, health official Ramphelane Morewane told broadcaster eNCA. Testing will only be needed in the future if the person is showing symptoms. For those infected, a 10-day quarantine is still necessary, after which testing is no longer necessary.
China punishes dozens of Xi’an officials as city enters COVID containment
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that 26 Communist Party officials had been punished for a virus outbreak in the closed city of Xi’an for “insufficient rigor in the prevention and control of the epidemic.”
Xi’an reported 49 more cases on Friday, bringing the total number of outbreaks to more than 250 in recent weeks.
The city of 13 million people has been closed since Thursday, with business closings and several rounds of mass tests launched.
Thailand Reports First Omicron Cluster, Cancels Some New Years Events
Thailand has reported its first nationwide cluster of Omicron variant coronavirus infections in Kalasin province in northeast Thailand, officials said.
“From the Kalasin cluster, there are 21 new infections,” said the country’s COVID-19 task force spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan.
The infections come from a couple who traveled from Belgium via the country’s Test & Go program which lifted the quarantine for vaccinated arrivals, she said.
The announcement comes as Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, has canceled the government-sponsored New Years activity, including midnight prayers.
Indian court demands postponement of state election as Omicron spreads
An Indian court has urged the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suspend political rallies and election campaigns in election-related states amid the growing number of cases of Omicron, a variant of COVID-19.
Judges at the Allahabad High Court in the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) have said the number of people infected with Omicron is on the rise and could lead to a third wave of the coronavirus.
Elections for the state assembly in UP, home to more than 220 million people, are scheduled for early next year, but final dates have not yet been announced. Three other states are also expected to hold local elections at the same time.
Health expert: Omicron variant propagates effectively indoors
Given the rapid spread of Omicron
Should we be calling for exterior masking?
I haven’t seen any evidence that Omicron is effectively spreading outdoors
I wear a high quality mask indoors in crowded public places
But not when I’m outside
Let’s focus on where Omicron is spreading
– Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) 23 December 2021
Australia to shorten COVID-19 booster dose intervals from January
Australia will shorten the interval between people to receive their COVID-19 booster shots to four months from five from January 4, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Friday as the country grapples with Record infections fueled by the Omicron variant.
The wait time will be further reduced to three months from Jan.31, Hunt said at a press conference.
Mexico adds 149 COVID-19 deaths, official death toll approaches 300,000
Mexico’s health ministry has reported 149 new confirmed deaths from COVID-19, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 298,508.
The ministry has previously said the actual death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is likely significantly higher.
55 people tested positive for COVID on U.S. cruise ship
Fifty-five people have tested positive for COVID-19 aboard a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship that set sail from the state of Florida in the southeastern United States on Saturday, the company said.
Infections on the ship, the Odyssey of the Seas, involved passengers and crew, even though 95% of those on board were vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The ship will remain at sea until it returns to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On December 26. It carries 3,587 passengers and 1,599 crew, according to USA Today.
President of Montenegro tests positive for COVID-19
The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, has tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with an infected person.
“The president has mild symptoms and is feeling well. In accordance with epidemiological measures, he will remain isolated from where he will exercise his usual presidential functions, ”his office said in a statement on Thursday.
So far, 161,944 people in Montenegro – with a population of just 620,000 – have fallen ill with the coronavirus and 2,385 people have died.
Many Americans continue with vacation travel plans despite Omicron
Millions of Americans are moving forward with vacations that include cross-border flights, busy tourist attractions, and indoor dining – even as the surge in COVID-19 infections, fueled by the Omicron variant, forces them to adapt their plans on the fly.
As people scramble for COVID-19 testing and assess various public health guidelines on how to safely gather for a pandemic-marked second Christmas, many have shown they are ready to brave the latest wave to enjoy holiday traditions such as worship and dining out.
The Transportation Security Administration screened 2,081,297 passengers at airports across the country on Wednesday, an increase of 144,000 from the number of travelers it screened before the pandemic on the same date in 2019.
Spanish Catalonia imposes nighttime curfew to stem increase in cases
The region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain gained court approval for a nighttime curfew on Thursday, as Madrid pledged to distribute millions of additional test kits to fight the Omicron variant that increases infections and eclipses Christmas.
Spain lifted most COVID-19 restrictions during its summer – thanks to a high vaccination rate that suppressed the infection – but the arrival of Omicron has pushed daily cases to a record high from 72,900 Thursday.