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December 7, 2021updated 07 Jan 2022 5:32am

International update: Government confirms community transmission of Covid Omicron across UK

By Paul Dennis

7 December

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.2 million, with a figure of 5,265,191 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections passed 266.5 million world wide.

Omicron latest

Omicron’s unusually large number of mutations on the gene that helps the coronavirus spread may provide clues as to how it developed, according to a computational analysis of the variant. According to researchers, some of the hypotheses about its development include that the strain emerged from an area where genomic surveillance is low or people have little access to health care. Alternatively, it could have developed in an immunosupressed person, who would have harbored the virus for a lengthy period, allowing it to mutate. Another hypothesis is that the virus could have crossed back into an animal population, mutated, and then re-infected humans.

Moderna Inc. fell as much as 16% on Monday, making it the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 Index, a troubling turn for the vaccine maker that led the benchmark just last week. It’s the biggest drop in a month for Moderna, and it comes as investors weigh the risks of the Omicron variant against a broader economic reopening. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signalled hope that existing vaccines could work on the virus variant, while country’s virus expert, Anthony Fauci, said in a CNN interview that the severity of illness may not be as bad as feared.

UK: Britain’s health minister said there is now community transmission of the Omicron variant across regions of England.

India: India’s cases of the Omicron variant rose to 21 over the weekend, officials said, while Nepal and Thailand detected their first cases.

Russia: Two people recently returned from South Africa were diagnosed with Russia’s first cases of the Omicron variant, the country’s health watchdog said in a statement Monday.

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 49 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 788,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

All private employers in New York City will have to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for their workers.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is ordering about 30 hospitals in the state to halt elective surgeries amid a surge in Covid-19 admissions.

Europe

Norway: New Covid restrictions are to be introduced in Norway after a recent increase in infections. Norway registered 2,576 new cases on Monday, 855 more than a week earlier.

Austria: Austrians who reject mandatory coronavirus vaccinations face 600-euro ($677) fines, according to a draft law seen by the Kurier newspaper. Penalties may be assessed every three months, putting vaccine deniers on the hook for as much as 2,400 euros a year, according to the newspaper. The amount is lower than earlier projections suggested by some officials.

Italy: Italy tightened restrictions on people still not vaccinated, limiting their access to an array of places and services.

Poland: A new range of pandemic restrictions will be imposed in Poland this week.

Czech Republic: The Czech government will order Covid-19 vaccinations for people working in hospitals and nursing homes as well as police officers, soldiers and some other professions and all citizens aged 60 and older.

France: France will close nightclubs for four weeks and open vaccination to vulnerable kids, in a bid to prevent hospitals from getting saturated this winter as the number of new Covid cases rises to around 40,000 per day.

The country could open vaccination to children between ages 5 and 11 by early 2022, Prime Minister Jean Castex said. He recommended that the French avoid large gatherings and try to work remotely. Health measures will also be strengthened in schools, he said.

Asia-pacific

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has moved more than 30 countries into its high-risk category in the past 10 days due to Omicron, making travelers from these places spend 21 days in mandatory quarantine, including those coming from Cook Islands, a tiny tropical island that saw its first-ever Covid-19 case just two days ago.  The high-risk category includes Mexico, Chile, Luxembourg and Romania. Rival Asian financial hub Singapore was also put into the 21-day category.

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