Covid-19 has infected more than 306.7M people and killed over 5.5M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

A crowd of 5,000 protesters chanted
A crowd of 5,000 protesters chanted "freedom, freedom!" and brandished banners denouncing what they called a "vaccine dictatorship" in Brussels. (AFP)

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Thousands protest virus rules in European cities

Several thousand protesters have marched in Brussels to oppose anti-coronavirus regulations, as European governments mull tighter rules in the face of the Omicron wave.

There was no repeat of the violence that had marred previous, larger demonstrations in the Belgian capital, although police intervened to surround a small group that approached the EU headquarters.

Meanwhile, thousands of people marched through the Czech Republic's capital to protest against compulsory vaccination for certain groups and professions.

The protesters gathered at Wenceslas Square in central Prague to question the effectiveness of the current vaccines and reject the vaccination of children before marching through the capital, chanting “Freedom, freedom.”

Kuwait, Qatar daily infections at a new high

Daily infection rates reported by Kuwait and Qatar have soared past previous peaks recorded in the summers of 2021 and 2020 respectively, as cases rise across all Gulf states.

Kuwait reported on Sunday 2,999 new cases, its fourth day of case numbers exceeding a high of 1,993 seen in July last year. Kuwait had seen below 50 daily cases during the last quarter of 2021.

Qatar reported on Saturday 3,487 new cases — or almost 10 percent of those tested — outpacing a previous high of 2,355 seen in May 2020. 

UK records over 140,000 new infections

Britain has reported a drop in new infections and fatalities. 

It registered 141,472 new cases on Sunday, down from 146,390 cases on Saturday, while the number of new deaths reported fell to 97 from 313, official figures showed.

Britain has seen a surge of cases linked to the Omicron variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus in recent weeks, though death rates have been lower than during previous waves of the disease.

German vaccine mandate 'could take months' to pass

Germany's ruling parties are hitting the brakes on plans for compulsory vaccinations, saying it may take months for lawmakers to properly debate the contentious measure in parliament. 

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel has reported that implementation could be delayed until June.

Among those who oppose a vaccine mandate are some members of the Free Democrats, who are part of the ruling coalition, and Germany's former health minister who pledged last summer not to introduce a general vaccine mandate.

Philippines reports record daily cases at 28,707

The Philippines has reported a record number of cases, registering 28,707 new infections, the Health Ministry said.

There were 15 fatalities, the health ministry said in a bulletin, bringing the total death toll to 52,150. 

The country has reported a total of more than 2.96 million cases since the pandemic started.

China reports 165 new cases, Omicron detected in Tianjin

China has reported 165 confirmed cases for January 8, up from 159 a day earlier, its health authority said on Sunday.

Of the new infections, 92 were locally transmitted, according to a statement by the National Health Commission, from 95 a day earlier.

Most of the new local cases were in Henan and Shaanxi provinces.

At least two local cases found in the northern coastal city of Tianjin, which shares a border with the capital city Beijing, were caused by the Omicron variant, state television reported on Sunday.

Africa's total cases top 10 million

Africa has registered a total of more than 10 million cases, according to figures from the African Union's health watchdog.

Data released by the Africa Centres for Disease Control showed that as of Saturday there had been 10,028,508 cases reported by the African Union's 55 member states since the outbreak of the pandemic.

A total of 231,157 deaths were recorded, the CDC said.

India registers more than 159,000 cases

India has registered more than 159,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry figures.

The ministry on Sunday indicated 159,632 new infections were recorded, pushing the case count to 35.5 million. With 327 new deaths, overall fatalities stand at 483,790. 

It also said that cases of the Omicron variant were at 3,623.

Australia's New South Wales marks highest death count

Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, has recorded its highest number of daily deaths as the Omicron variant sweeps the country and lawmakers face pressure to close widening supply chain gaps.

The home to Sydney and a third of Australia's 25 million people reported 16 deaths in the previous day. New South Wales reported 30,062 new infections, near-record levels.

The second-largest state, Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament this month, reported 44,155 new cases and four deaths.

German health minister wants to revamp vaccination strategy

Germany must revamp its vaccination strategy to tackle the Omicron variant and to ensure it can develop a new vaccine rapidly if it faces a more deadly variant in the future, Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, has said. 

Lauterbach, who was appointed health minister last month, made his comments in an advanced release of an interview to be published in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

Japan: Deal reached on US military curbs to halt Covid-19

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that Japan and the US have reached “a basic agreement” on banning the US military from leaving its base grounds, amid growing worries about a sharp rise in cases.

Kishida on Sunday said American soldiers will stay on base “except when absolutely necessary,” which presumably means for emergencies or other security reasons. Details of the deal are still being worked out, he said on Fuji TV. 

The overall US-Japan security alliance remains unchanged. 

Hong Kong officials to leave quarantine after false positive

Multiple Hong Kong officials and lawmakers will be allowed to leave a quarantine camp after one of two cases detected at a party they attended is declared a false positive.

Dozens of senior officials and lawmakers were ordered into Hong Kong's 21-day quarantine facilities this week as health officials warn of an imminent outbreak due to the Omicron variant.

Mexico hits record daily infections

Mexico has hit a record in confirmed daily cases, according to official data, posting more than 30,000 additional infections as the highly contagious respiratory disease spread in the country.

The health ministry tallied 30,671 new cases on Saturday, after registering more than 20,000 new infections on each of the previous three days.

Covid-19 fatalities, however, have not shown a similar spike in recent days, with 202 confirmed deaths on Saturday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Mexico since the pandemic began stands at 4,113,789, with 300,303 confirmed fatalities, the fifth highest official death toll worldwide.

EuroLeague suspends three games in round 20

The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague has postponed three round 20 games due to positive virus cases.

The match between Bitci Baskonia Vitoria - Gasteiz and Anadolu Efes, as well as that between Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade and Real Madrid, were added to the organization's suspended list upon the requests of Baskon ia and Belgrade.

Earlier on Saturday, the game between AS Monaco and UNICS Kazan had also been suspended.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies