A global rise in Covid-19 infections caused by Omicron has put the brakes on New Year’s celebrations and canceled thousands of flights, though health officials are basing their hopes on the softer impact of the variant to help them avoid the risks of deceased.
- The UK government has asked public sector managers to test their contingency plans against a worst-case 25% staff absence, as part of efforts to minimize disruption from the spike in infections.
- Secondary school children in England will be asked to wear face coverings when they return after Christmas break next week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.
- Omicron could ease the strain on Germany’s healthcare system if it is found to be producing milder disease, the head of the country’s senior hospital doctors’ association said.
- Paris St Germain forward Lionel Messi and three other players have tested positive for COVID-19, the French Ligue 1 club announced on Sunday.
- Bulgaria has detected its first 12 cases of the Omicron variant.
- The German operator of a cruise ship stranded in the port of Lisbon due to a coronavirus outbreak among its crew interrupted the trip on Sunday.
- More than 4,000 flights were canceled globally on Sunday, more than half of which were flights within the United States, adding to the toll of holiday week travel disruptions due to inclement weather and soaring cases related to Omicron.
- US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday with mild symptoms and would virtually attend meetings.
- Brazilian health agency Anvisa has warned passengers against boarding cruise ships operating along the Brazilian coast after outbreaks of Covid-19 affecting crew and customers.
- China ended its final week of 2021 with its highest number of local cases in a seven-day period since the country’s first outbreak was brought under control almost two years ago.
- China’s meticulous plans to prevent an Olympics-seeded ovid-19 epidemic by locking all participants in a “closed loop” for the next Winter Games will be tested by the emergence of the variant. highly infectious from Omicron.
- Australia said the lighter impact of the Omicron variant meant the country could move forward with plans to reopen the economy even as new infections hit a record high of over 37,000 and the number of people hospitalized was increasing.
Africa and Middle East
- Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday the country would offer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to people over 60 and medical staff.
- The Kuwaiti Embassy in the UK has encouraged its citizens to leave the country due to a “significant and unprecedented” increase in Omicron cases there.
* Sinovac’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine followed by a Pfizer-BioNTech booster showed a weaker immune response against the Omicron variant compared to other strains, according to a study conducted by researchers.
* Novavax Inc will submit a request to the United States Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine next month, further delaying the submission it had expected by the end of this year.
* OPEC + expects the impact on the oil market of the Omicron variant to be slight and temporary, leaving the door open for a further increase in production, a technical report seen by Reuters showed on Sunday.
(Compiled by Uttaresh.V; edited by Shounak Dasgupta)
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