PARIS: Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– WHO warns of Omicron overload –
The World Health Organization warns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could lead to overwhelmed healthcare systems even though early studies suggest it leads to milder disease.
– US southern Africa travel ban ended –
President Joe Biden announces he is lifting a ban from Friday on travel from South Africa and other countries in the region, imposed due to fear of the Omicron variant.
– Record cases in England and Wales –
England and Wales report nearly 130,000 new coronavirus infections, a record daily tally as Omicron variant cases surge and the responses of the UK’s four nations continue to diverge.
– China expands lockdown –
Hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Yan’an in northern China join millions already under strict lockdown as authorities race to contain a surge in Covid cases less than 40 days before the Beijing Winter Olympics.
– Belgian court suspends entertainment closures –
A Belgian court suspends the closure of concert halls, cinemas and other entertainment venues, a measure announced last week by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to stem the spread of Omicron.
– Finland shuts out unjabbed foreigners –
Finland announces it will block entry for foreign travellers who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, as it steps up its fight against Omicron.
– Omicron dominant in Netherlands, Switzerland –
Omicron has become the dominant coronavirus variant in the Netherlands and Switzerland, authorities say, while Greece and Portugal report new daily records of 21,657 and 17,172 new cases respectively.
– Record Spanish budget –
Spain’s parliament gives final approval to the biggest budget in the country’s history, as the government seeks to spur activity in an economy badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
– Covid looms over Maxwell trial –
US jurors resume their deliberations in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex crimes trial, with the judge expressing concern that New York City’s “astronomical spike” in Covid cases could disrupt proceedings.
– Sports feel Covid pain –
The sports sector counts the cost after France becomes the latest country to impose limits on attendances at public events and as South Africa’s cricket Test series with India takes place behind closed doors.
– Third Barca player positive –
Barcelona’s Spanish international left-back Jordi Alba becomes the third player for the La Liga club to test positive for Covid-19 this week.
– More than 5.4 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,404,577 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally Tuesday from official sources compiled by AFP.
Overall, the United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 818,371, followed by Brazil with 618,534, India with 480,290 and Russia with 306,090.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.