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Covid-19: Omicron summary

US President Joe Biden has pledged to ease the shortage of covid-19 testing with the Omicron variant threatening to overwhelm some hospitals and stifle travel plans as it spreads across the country this holiday week. Here is a brief summary of the state of affairs on Tuesday …

Deaths and infections

Americas

Rising cases, along with bad weather, have prompted airlines to cancel more than 1,000 flights on Monday, and the spread of the Omicron variant has prompted the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert to suggest that the government d ” consider requiring vaccines for domestic flights.

U.S. health officials have shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases to five days from the previous 10-day guideline.

Confirmed cases in Argentina nearly doubled Monday from Friday to 20,263 new infections, the highest daily tally in nearly 6 months.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will not vaccinate his 11-year-old daughter against covid-19, he said.

Asia Pacific

Australia saw another record rise in infections as
an outbreak of the highly infectious variant of Omicron disrupted the reopening of the economy, as heads of state wrangled over national border controls.

Indonesian health authorities were conducting contact tracing on Tuesday after detecting the Southeast Asian country’s first case of the Omicron variant in the community.

Europe

Spain’s infection rate topped 1,000 cases per 100,000 people for the first time on Monday, although hospitals were under far less strain than in previous waves of the pandemic.

Greece announced new restrictions in effect from January 3 to 16 to contain a further surge in covid-19 infections, including the Omicron variant, primarily targeting nightlife entertainment venues.

Middle East and Africa

Daily new cases in Turkey jumped 30% on Monday to 26,099, the highest percentage increase this year, as the health minister warned of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Iran has banned the entry of travelers from Britain, France, Denmark and Norway for 15 days.

Medical developments

India has granted emergency use authorization for the covid-19 pill molnupiravir from Merck and the Covovax coronavirus vaccine from the Indian Serum Institute and Corbevax from Biological E.

China’s Kintor faced a temporary setback, as the interim analysis of a late-stage trial for its potential covid-19 pill failed to provide sufficient data due to the lack of hospitalized cases.

Economic impact

Asian stocks edged higher on Tuesday, following another record day on Wall Street, as the safe haven yen lost ground as traders stayed on riskier assets.

Production at Japanese factories surged at the fastest pace on record in November, as easing bottlenecks in the global supply chain helped auto production emerge from its recent slump, raising the prospect of ‘a strong economic rebound in the fourth quarter.

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