Covid-19 has infected more than 346M people and killed over 5.6M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Daily Covid-19 cases in Tokyo top 10,000 for first time
The daily count of Covid-19 cases in Tokyo has topped the 10,000 threshold for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The provincial governor’s office reported the tally of Covid-19 cases on Saturday as 11,227, bringing the total number in Japan’s capital to over 453,000.
The virus has claimed three lives in the past 24 hours, while 12 people are being treated in intensive care units.
Northampton's Champions Cup tie cancelled
Northampton's Champions Cup tie at Racing 92 on Sunday has been cancelled because of several positive Covid-19 tests in the Saints camp.
Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said Racing had been awarded the match by a 28-0 scoreline with five match points.
"EPCR has been informed by Northampton Saints that they have recorded a number of positive test results for Covid-19," read a statement.
"The Pool A fixture at Paris La Defense Arena is therefore regrettably cancelled with Racing 92 awarded the match on a 28-0, five match points basis, in accordance with the tournament rules."
The cancellation ends winless Northampton's hopes of making the Champions Cup round of 16 and all but secures Racing finishing top of Group A.
Comoros camp hits by Covid outbreak at Cup of Nations
The Comoros Islands have been hit by an outbreak of Covid-19 in their camp, including their coach and two available goalkeepers, two days before they are due to meet Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon in the last 16.
A total of 12 cases have been reported in their camp, the Comoros Football Federation said on Saturday.
They now face a crisis in goal with first choice Salim Ben Boina injured and their other two keepers, Ali Ahamada and Moyadh Ousseni, now forced to isolate.
Coach Amir Abdou, who has been in charge for the last eight years and credited for his country’s giant-killing run, is now also in quarantine.
Samoa goes into lockdown after 15 Australians test positive
The prime minister of Samoa has placed the small Pacific nation into a 48-hour lockdown after 15 passengers on a flight from Australia tested positive for Covid-19.
The infected passengers were among 73 who arrived from Brisbane on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa also said Saturday the government may cancel further flights from Australia. A scheduled flight from New Zealand on Saturday has already been postponed, according to Radio New Zealand.
All the passengers were reportedly fully vaccinated and had tested negative for Covid-19 before departure.
Ireland lifts most Covid measures
Most pandemic restrictions have been scrapped in Ireland, including early closing times and other curbs on hospitality venues, declaring the country had "weathered the Omicron storm".
The stringent rules, beefed up last month as the variant prompted a surge of new infections, have been lifted after new cases and other key indicators eased in recent weeks.
"We've concluded that the rationale or justification for continuing most of our public health restrictions are no longer in place," Prime Minister Michael Martin announced, while cautioning that "the pandemic isn't over".
Pubs, bars and restaurants can now operate normal trading hours rather than closing in early evening and no longer need a Covid pass system or social distancing.
Meanwhile indoor and outdoor events will not have any crowd limits imposed on them and different households can gather without restrictions on numbers.
Masks will still be needed in some settings, while self-isolation rules will also remain for now for those who test positive for Covid-19 and their close contacts as well as symptomatic people.
Russia reports record daily cases for second day in a row
Russia has reported a new record number of Covid-19 infections confirmed in the past 24 hours as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads across the country, the government coronavirus task force said.
Daily new cases jumped to 57,212, from the previous record of 49,513 a day earlier. The task force also reported 681 deaths.
Taiwan on Covid alert as domestic Omicron cases spike
Taiwan's government has ordered a tightening of controls after a rare spike in domestic transmission of the Omicron variant, saying it needed to act now to prevent being overwhelmed even though overall numbers remain quite low.
After months of no or few community infections, Taiwan has seen a small rise in local Covid-19 cases since the start of the month, almost all Omicron.
The cases were mainly linked to workers at the main international airport in the northern city of Taoyuan who were infected by arriving passengers.
There have been no deaths and most of the cases have had only mild or no symptoms.
Officials announced a series of new steps, including a ban on eating and drinking on public transport and limits on the number of people visiting temples, ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
Testing will be expanded to reach the largest number of possible contacts, said Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.
NFL ends daily Covid testing for all players
The NFL has curtailed daily testing of all players, vaccinated or unvaccinated, for Covid-19 after medical experts from the NFL and the players' union agreed to the change.
The league reported that they have seen enough evidence of a decrease in positive tests in the last month to feel comfortable with dropping daily tests.
“Effective immediately, all players and tiered staff will be subject to strategic and targeted testing,” the league said in a memo as they will continue symptom-based testing and screening for symptoms.
Last month, weekly testing for vaccinated players and personnel was stopped, but anyone who reported symptoms of Covid-19 or was part of targeted surveillance still was subjected to testing.
Poland reports new daily record of cases
Poland has reported a record 40,876 new daily Covid-19 infections, the health ministry said, as the Omicron variant takes hold across the country.
Authorities expect the latest wave of the pandemic will drive case numbers to levels not yet seen in Poland, with estimates of the peak ranging from 60,000 to as many as 140,000 daily infections.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Twitter that the number of tests being conducted had grown steadily over the past week, with some 151,000 test results, including 100,000 PCRs.
Poland, a country of around 38 million, has one of the world's highest Covid-19 death rates per capita and its vaccination rate is below the European Union average.
It has so far reported 4,484,095 Covid-19 cases and 103,819 deaths.
Poland has limited restrictions in place, including wearing masks in enclosed public spaces, but they are often not strictly enforced.
Samoa, Kiribati to lock down as virus lands in Pacific
Kiribati and Samoa have entered lockdowns after overseas arrivals brought Covid to the Pacific island nations that had avoided the worst of the pandemic for two years.
Until this month, Kiribati hadn't reported a single virus case, while Samoa had only recorded two since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization.
But authorities in both countries have been forced to put in place stay-at-home orders after the virus was detected in international arrivals.
In Samoa, he restrictions will lift on Monday night and all current cases, believed to be infected with the Omicron variant, are in quarantine, prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said.
It was unclear how long the lockdown will last in Kiribati, but a previous announcement said restrictions would end on Thursday.
Around 62 percent of Samoa's population is fully vaccinated, while about 34 percent of Kiribati's population is double-jabbed, according to WHO data.
Three CDC studies: Boosters crucial against Omicron
Three Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies offered more evidence that Covid-19 vaccines are standing up to the Omicron variant, at least among people who received booster shots.
They are the first large US studies to look at vaccine protection against omicron, health officials said.
The papers echo previous research — including studies in Germany, South Africa and the UK — indicating available vaccines are less effective against omicron than earlier versions of the coronavirus, but also that booster doses rev up virus-fighting antibodies to increase the chance of avoiding symptomatic infection.
Mission: Impossible movies delayed, again
Paramount Pictures and Skydance have announced that the release of “Mission: Impossible 7” will be pushed from Sept. 20 to July 14, 2023. “Mission: Impossible 8,” previously set for July 2023, will instead open June 28, 2024.
It's the latest setback for a pair of blockbusters that have been much-delayed by the pandemic. Shooting on “Mission: Impossible 7" was put on hiatus in early 2020 because of Covid-19. After filming resumed in the summer of 2020, principal photography ultimately concluded by September 2021.
Paramount and Skydance attributed the postponements to pandemic-related delays.
“After thoughtful consideration, Paramount Pictures and Skydance have decided to postpone the release dates for Mission: Impossible 7 & 8 in response to delays due to the ongoing pandemic," said the film companies in a joint statement.
Brazil postpones Rio Carnival
The world-famous Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro will be held in late April rather than the final weekend of February, as the number of coronavirus cases in Brazil spikes and the Omicron variant spreads across the country.
“The decision was made respecting for the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil and the need, at this time, to preserve lives and join forces to drive vaccination throughout the country,” said a statement issued onFriday jointly by the cities of Rio and Sao Paulo, which also delayed the start of its Carnival parades until April 21.
Earlier in the afternoon, Rio's Mayor Eduardo Paes and his Sao Paulo counterpart Ricardo Nunes held a video call along with their respective health secretaries and each city's league of samba schools that put on the parade, according to the statement.