Covid-19 has infected more than 350M people and killed over 5.6M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

The Omicron variant has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu.
The Omicron variant has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu. (AP)

Sunday, January 23, 2022

WHO: Europe could be headed for pandemic endgame

The Omicron variant has moved the pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director said.

"It's plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame," Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March.

Once the current surge of Omicron currently sweeping across Europe subsides, "there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality."

Hundreds protest Covid-19 measures in Barcelona

Hundreds of protesters have gathered in the Spanish city of Barcelona to rally against restrictions adopted by both national and regional authorities to curb the Omicron-fuelled surge in cases.

Participants in Sunday's protests included people who reject vaccines and those who deny the existence or gravity of the virus.

Italy reports over 138,000 new cases

Italy has reported 138,860 cases, against 171,263 the day before, while the number of deaths fell to 227 from 333.

Italy has registered 143,523 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth highest in the world.

The country has reported 9.9 million cases to date.

Britain reports over 74,000 daily cases

Britain has reported 74,799 new cases and 75 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, government data showed.

The number of positive tests have fallen by 15.4 percent to 641,687 in the last seven days, according to the data. 

Turkiye reports over 65,000 daily cases

Turkiye has reported more than 65,000 cases.

The Health Ministry recorded 65,503 new cases, 185 deaths, and 75,422 recoveries over the past day. Also, 392,281 virus tests were done in the last 24 hours.

To stem the virus' spread, the country has also administered more than 140.74 million doses of vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January 2021.

Beijing tests 2M as Winter Olympics loom

Beijing city officials said all two million residents of a neighbourhood where a small cluster of coronavirus cases was detected will be tested, less than two weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics.

China's cases constitute a tiny fraction of the massive surge in countries around the globe, with the highly contagious Omicron variant driving a fresh spike in infections.

Still, multiple small outbreaks around China -- including in Beijing -- have tested its strict "zero Covid" policy, which authorities have pursued even as the rest of the world has gradually re opened.

Russia breaks case record for third day

Russia reported a new daily high of Covid-19 cases, breaking its national record for the third day running as the highly contagious Omicron variants spurs surging infections.

The European country worst hit by the pandemic registered 63,205 cases over 24 hours, beating previous records of 57,212 on Saturday and 49,513 on Friday, government figures showed.

Moscow, the epicentre of Russia's outbreak, posted a new record for the fourth day in a row with 17,528 infections.

Two Australian states to test school students twice weekly

Australia  has reported 58 deaths, as the two most populous states, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, said students would be tested twice weekly for the Omicron variant when classes resume next week.

NSW reported 34 deaths of patients with Covid-19, while Victoria state saw 14 deaths, and Queensland reported 10 deaths.

Health officials said they believe an Omicron outbreak has peaked in NSW and Victoria, which reported 20,324 and 13,091 new cases respectively.

Covax opens new front in pandemic arms race

Covax has plans to break the pandemic in 2022 by ensuring a steady supply of vaccines at last for the world's poorest countries — and swiftly getting them into arms.

The global scheme, aimed at procuring donor-funded jabs for the 91 weakest economies, delivered its one billionth dose last weekend — a major milestone that came far later than anticipated after a year of setbacks.

The battle for Covax in 2021 was getting hold of doses — besides rich countries cornering most of the vaccine supply, it faced export bans from producer countries, regulatory red tape and manufacturing delays.

PM cancels her wedding as New Zealand tightens measures

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Omicron variant, she told reporters.

New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine cases of the Omicron variant showed community transmission from the North to South islands after a wedding.

A family travelled by plane from the North Island capital of Auckland to a wedding in the South Island attended by 100 people. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.

US food banks scrambling for volunteers

Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the Omicron variant frightens people away from their usual shifts.

Companies and schools that regularly supply large groups of volunteers are also canceling their participation over virus fears.

The end result in many cases has been a serious increase in spending by the food banks at a time when they are already dealing with higher food costs due to inflation and supply chain issues.

Europeans protest against vaccine passports

Thousands of people have gathered in European capitals to protest vaccine passports and other requirements governments have imposed in hopes of ending the pandemic.

Demonstrations took place in Athens, Helsinki, London, Paris and Stockholm.

No major incidents or clashes were reported.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies