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Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus

Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus
Photo: Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus
EUROPE

* France had its worst-ever day in terms of new cases, with more than 91,000 being recorded while the number of deaths also climbed.

* Britain recorded a record number of new cases as the Omicron variant swept across the country.

* Italy has tightened restrictions to curb surging infections, including banning all public New Year's Eve celebrations, as daily infections hit a record high.

* The northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia won court approval for a night curfew as Madrid pledged to distribute millions more test kits to tackle the Omicron variant.

* President Vladimir Putin said he hoped Russia could vaccinate enough people to reach collective immunity next year, urging more Russians to get inoculated as the death toll crossed 600,000.

ASIA-PACIFIC
* Rising infections in China's city of Xian have spurred a lockdown of its 13 million residents, with stretches of highway eerily bare, as many people queued in the cold to get their noses swabbed at testing sites.

* Australia re-introduced curbs such as indoor mask-wearing, capacity limits and QR code check-ins to cover most of the population as daily infections hit a record.

AMERICAS

* US President Joe Biden's steps to backstop hospitals and distribute coronavirus test kits, however welcome, are too little too late to stem a surge of Omicron-related cases over Christmas and New Year's, health experts said.

* The rapid spread of Omicron infections has hospitals in the US Midwest "preparing for the worst," with their intensive care units and medical personnel already severely strained from a wave of the potent Delta variant.

* Seven US Department of Defence staff who travelled last week to multiple American bases, including Indo-Pacific Command on Hawaii, have tested positive.

* Honduras began offering booster vaccine to all adults as it seeks to counter the threat posed by the Omicron variant.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Kenya's sudden decision to demand proof of vaccination to access public places and transport was met by a combination of bemusement, dismissal and the occasional spot of enforcement.

* Zambia will introduce booster vaccines as it battles the respiratory disease which has infected over 200,000 people and killed more than 3,000.

* Lebanon's tourism ministry ordered restaurants, hotels, fitness centres and entertainment venues to require visitors to present either a certificate of vaccination or a negative PCR test before entering.

* The Moroccan government has extended the nationwide health state of emergency to January 31.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The US authorised Merck & Co's antiviral pill for for certain high-risk adult patients, a day after giving a broader go-ahead to a similar but more effective treatment from Pfizer Inc.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* US stock indexes and yields on US Treasuries both climbed as investors and traders were optimistic about positive economic data and the impact of the Omicron variant on the economy, even as case counts soar.

* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held below pre-pandemic levels last week, while consumer spending increased solidly, putting the economy on track for a strong finish to 2021.

GLOBAL

DEATHS 5,399,185

CASES 278,326,106

RECOVERED 249,097,428

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