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December 2, 2021

International update: US reports first Omicron Covid variant case

By Paul Dennis

2 December

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.2 million, with a figure of 5,226,923 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections passed 263 million world wide.

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 48.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 782,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US reported its first Omicron case identified in California and discovered in a traveller who returned from South Africa on 22 November and tested positive on 29 November.

The arrival of the highly-mutated Omicron variant in the US shouldn’t cancel end-of-year holiday plans for fully vaccinated Americans, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said during a CNN Global Town Hall on coronavirus. “If you are vaccinated and your family is vaccinated, enjoy the holidays,” said Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I would not do anything different than what we had recommended,” he said.

US health officials praised a new global agreement to strengthen the world’s readiness for future pandemics. The US will join other nations in a years-long process to negotiate new global rules meant to boost transparency and collaboration in response to health threats.

Europe

EU: The EU must consider mandatory vaccination, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. One-third of Europe’s 150-million population are not vaccinated.

Italy: Italy’s medicines agency Aifa approved the use of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for children aged 5-11. The approval follows that of the European Union’s drugs regulator last month. Two shots will be administered at a three-week interval, and the dosage for kids will be a third of that given to adults and adolescents.

Germany: Germany has reported another 73,209 new Covid cases for Wednesday and 388 deaths, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.

UK: Ministers in the UK have secured new contracts to buy 114m more Covid-19 vaccines for the next two years.

Greece: Greek lawmakers approved legislation making vaccination for Covid mandatory for all residents aged over 60. Some 17% of Greeks aged over 60 have not yet been vaccinated. They have until 16 January to get their first jabs, or will be fined 100 euros for every month they remain unvaccinated.

Asia-pacific

South Korea: South Korea has reported a new daily record in Covid cases with 5,266 cases recorded on Wednesday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

South Korea is considering halting a “gradual return to normal life” and tightening social-distancing rules as infections surge and Omicron cases are detected, DongA Ilbo newspaper reported.

India: India has recorded another 9,765 daily Covid cases and 277 for Wednesday, according to an update from the health ministry.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s quarantine is pushing Cathay Pacific pilots to “breaking point” as many seek work elsewhere, AFP reports.

Indonesia: Indonesia is extending quarantine for travelers arriving from overseas to 10 days from 7 days to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, the leader of the pandemic response in Java and Bali said. The new rule will come into effect Friday.

China: China is reporting 73 new Covid cases for Wednesday, a decrease from the 113 reported Covid cases a day earlier, Reuters reports. China reported 53 new local cases in Inner Mongolia’s Hulunbuir region, while an infection linked to the cluster was detected in Harbin in the country’s northeast, showing it has spread to other provinces.

Harbin city government offered incentives of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) to people who request Covid tests and are found to be infected, aiming to encourage those who might be connected to the Inner Mongolia flareup to report to municipal authorities.

Australia: NSW Health confirmed a traveller has been infected with the Omicron variant, bringing total cases of the variant in the Australian state to seven, according to an emailed statement. The person arrived on flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney on Nov. 23 and is isolating in special health accommodation with family.

Middle-east and Africa

South Africa: The heavily mutated Omicron variant has propelled a sharp rise in Covid cases in South Africa as health experts describe the degree of increase as “worrying”. The variant now accounts for 74% of all the virus genomes sequenced in the nation last month.

South Africa is in talks with Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to gain access to their Covid-19 treatment pills as the Omicron variant spreads across the country and cases almost double. South Africa wants one of them to potentially produce the therapeutics domestically, said Nicholas Crisp, deputy director general in the Department of Health.

UAE: The United Arab Emirates announced its first known case of the new Covid variant Omicron.

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