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

Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan
Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan

(Reuters) – Several countries reimposed social distancing measures, while surging COVID-19 cases in New York City and across the United States over the weekend dashed hopes for a more normal holiday season.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

AMERICAS

* The Omicron variant accounts for 73% of U.S. infections based on sequencing data for the week ended Dec. 18, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

* The CDC and the State Department advised Americans against travel to eight destinations including Spain and Finland, but top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Biden administration is considering easing travel restrictions to Southern African countries.

* U.S. President Joe Biden tested negative after he was notified that a mid-level White House staff member who spent about 30 minutes near him on Air Force One on Friday tested positive.

* Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said a rapid COVID-19 test that she had taken proved to be positive.

* Panama has detected its first Omicron case, while neighbouring Costa Rica detected three more confirmed cases.

* Colombia has also identified three cases of the Omicron variant in the country.

EUROPE

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would tighten coronavirus curbs to slow the spread of the Omicron variant if needed.

* The European Union approved the use of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine in people 18 years and older, paving the way for a fifth shot in the EU.

* The Russian maker of the Sputnik V vaccine is due to submit its latest clinical data by the end of December, with manufacturing site inspections expected to follow in February, a World Health Organization official said.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* New Zealand postponed its phased border re-opening plans until the end of February.

* Australia must move past “the heavy hand of government” and authorities must stop shutting down people’s lives with lockdowns, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

* Singapore said preliminary tests had detected two suspected Omicron cases linked to a gym, with results for a third case related to the gym pending.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Kuwait will require anyone who has been fully vaccinated for nine months to get a booster shot.

* South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has returned to work after finishing a week of self-isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The Omicron variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in the vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19, the head of the World Health Organization said. [L1N2T51H0]

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Asian stocks rose on Tuesday, shrugging off a bruising Wall Street session, as Chinese markets cheered Beijing’s push to help troubled property firms, although surging cases of the Omicron variant persist as a worry for investors. [MKTS/GLOB]

* British business confidence began to feel the impact of the Omicron variant this month, alongside further upward pressure on prices and staffing costs, a survey showed.

(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Aditya Soni; Edited by Maju Samuel and Shounak Dasgupta)

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