(Reuters) – Top U.S. infectious disease adviser Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that the surge in the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the United States is likely to peak by the end of January.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* U.S. COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are comparatively low despite a surge in cases as the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday.
* The average number of daily cases in the United States hit a record high of 258,312 over the last seven days, a Reuters tally found.
* Bolivia reported late on Tuesday an all-time record of 4,934 new cases of COVID-19, as the omicron variant spreads worldwide but without any confirmed cases of the variant in the Andean nation.
* Thai authorities warned residents should brace for a potential jump in coronavirus cases after classifying the country’s first cluster of the Omicron variant as a “super-spreader” incident.
* Japan feared a rebound in infections as the highways and airports filled with travellers at the start of New Year holidays.
* New Zealand said a person who tested positive for the Omicron variant had briefly been active in the community in Auckland.
* A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day, with many unable to leave their residential compounds and relying on deliveries of necessities as new infections persisted.
* Australia will seek to make urgent changes to COVID-19 testing rules to ease pressure on test sites as infections surged and the country’s most populous state reported a near doubling in daily cases.
* France is seeing a “tsunami” of COVID-19 infections, with 208,000 cases reported over the past 24 hours, a new national and European record, Health Minister Olivier Veran told lawmakers on Wednesday.
* German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Wednesday that the number of new coronavirus cases has been under-reported and the actual incidence rate of infections is about two or three times higher than the officially reported figure.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Turkey logged 36,684 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number of daily infections since April 29, health ministry data showed, as Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged citizens to get booster vaccinations.
* Tunisia’s Ministry of Health approved the Russian one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine as a booster shot, Russia’s RDIF sovereign fund said.
* Israel’s Oramed Pharmaceuticals said its Oravax Medical unit had signed a deal with Vietnam’s Tan Thanh Holdings for the pre-order of 10 million doses of its oral COVID-19 vaccine that is in clinical trials.
* European shares inched lower on Wednesday as record coronavirus infections made investors wary and falls in technology, healthcare and travel stocks led the selling in thin holiday trade. [.EU]
* Oil prices edged towards $80 per barrel as global supply outages and declining U.S. inventories offset worries that rising coronavirus cases might reduce demand.
* The Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs on Wednesday on a boost from retailers including Walgreens and Nike, as investors shrugged off concerns on the spreading Omicron variant.
* Financial institutions in India have remained resilient and stable financial markets are cushioned by policy and regulatory support, a central bank report said.
(Compiled by Shinjini Ganguli, Marta Frackowiak and Devika Syamnath; Edited by Milla Nissi, Barbara Lewis and Maju Samuel)