(Reuters) – The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version still accounts for the majority of infections as cases rise nationwide, U.S. health officials said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* The incoming German government wants to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory from March 16 for people working in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical practices, according to a copy of draft legislation seen by Reuters.
* Police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse protesters pelting officers with cobblestones and fireworks as a demonstration in Brussels over government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions turned violent.
* Dutch former queen Beatrix, 83, has tested positive for COVID-19, the royal information service RVD said.
* Chilean health authorities reported on Saturday that they detected the first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a person who had arrived in the copper-producing South American country from Africa.
* A cruise ship set to dock in New Orleans with over 3,000 passengers has detected 10 cases of COVID-19 among its crew and guests, the Louisiana Department of Health said.
* Canada’s tight labor market is forcing many companies to offer regular COVID-19 testing over vaccine mandates, while others are reversing previously announced inoculation requirements even as Omicron variant cases rise.
* India on Sunday reported its highest single-day COVID-19 deaths since July after two states revised their death tolls. The country has detected seven more Omicron cases, making 12 in all.
* The coronavirus pandemic has weakened China’s power in the Indo-Pacific, and the region’s deepening security uncertainties present a “significant” risk of war, the Lowy Institute said in a report.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Africa has little chance of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic unless 70% of its population is vaccinated by end-2022, yet “extreme vaccine discrimination” is leaving the continent behind, a report said.
* A Jordanian court sentenced five senior health officials to three years in jail for causing the death of 10 COVID-19 patients following an oxygen outage in a major state hospital, state media said.
* Australia’s medicine regulator provisionally approved the Pfizer Inc coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, with the health minister saying the rollout could begin from Jan. 10.
* Asian share markets lagged a bounce in U.S. and European futures on Monday, while bonds surrendered some of their recent gains and oil rallied as Saudi Arabia lifted its crude prices.[MKTS/GLOB]
* Federal Reserve policymakers look likely to accelerate the wind down of their bond-buying program when they meet later this month as they respond to a tightening labor market and move to open the door to earlier rate hikes than they had projected.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)