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Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus – Metro US

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 testing center in Noyal-Chatillon-sur-Seiche
FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 testing center in Noyal-Chatillon-sur-Seiche

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech for those aged 16 and 17, as public health officials have urged Americans to get the additional shots on concerns about the new Omicron variant.

EUROPE

* European Union countries are expected to agree to limit to nine months the duration of COVID-19 certificates for travel around the bloc, three EU sources told Reuters, but some states are concerned that such a limit could hinder travel.

* Britain’s finance firms have began issuing an array of updated work from home guidance to staff after the government toughened up rules.

* Slovakia is to give cash handouts to people over 60 who get vaccinated or have their booster shot, aiming to spur inoculation rates lagging others in the EU.

* Austria’s planned vaccine mandate has a minimum age of 14, the health minister said. The government also said holdouts face fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,071) every three months.

AMERICAS

* U.S. railroad operators Union Pacific Corp and BNSF Railway said they were suspending their COVID-19 vaccine mandate for their employees, two days after a judge blocked the Biden administration’s inoculation rule for federal contractors.

* Several Wall Street banks are increasing efforts to ensure staff get coronavirus booster shots, after Jefferies reported a surge in COVID-19 cases and as countries and industries grapple with how to respond to the spread of the Omicron variant.

* Cuba has detected its first case of the Omicron variant in a person who had travelled from Mozambique, Cuban state media agency ACN reported.

* The United States rushed millions of vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11, but demand for inoculations for younger kids has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians said.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Authorities in Pakistan are investigating the first possible case of the Omicron variant in the country, a provincial health ministry official said.

* Several parents associations in South Korea held protests against a vaccine pass mandate for children aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 among teenagers.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Early hospital data from South Africa shows less than a third of patients admitted for COVID-19 during the latest wave linked to the Omicron variant are suffering severe illness, compared with two thirds in the early stages of the last two waves.

* South Africa’s fourth COVID-19 wave linked to the Omicron variant produced a record 22,391 new cases, but only 22 deaths, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in its daily update on Thursday.

* Malta will return to mandatory mask-wearing in outdoor and indoor spaces as from Saturday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Germany’s vaccination advisory commission recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is given to children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions.

* The European Union’s drugs regulator said it could make sense to administer vaccine boosters as early as three months after the initial two-shot regimen.

* The World Health Organization warned wealthy countries against hoarding vaccines for booster shots as they try to fight off the new Omicron variant, threatening supplies to poorer countries where inoculation rates are low.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* The European Union needs to rethink its budget framework and alter deficit rules to encourage post-pandemic investment and foster growth as the world seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

(Compiled by Juliette Portala, Valentine Baldassari and Shailesh Kuber; Edited by Elaine Hardcastle, Diane Craft and Shounak Dasgupta)

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