(Reuters) – Future pandemics could be more lethal than COVID-19 so the lessons learned from the outbreak must not be squandered and the world should ensure it is prepared for the next viral wave, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* European Union health ministers will discuss the pandemic and the spread of the Omicron variant on Tuesday.
* Slovenia’s highest court ruled that a regulation mandating vaccination for public sector employees unless they can show proof of recovery is unconstitutional.
* Slovakia’s health minister said he would ask the cabinet to extend a lockdown by one week until Dec. 16.
* The Norwegian government will introduce additional measures, the health minister said, while Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would present a new package of restrictions this week.
* Russia reported its first confirmed cases of the new Omicron variant, Russian news agencies reported, as well as Croatia, according to the state health institute.
* Italy tightened restrictions on people still not vaccinated, limiting their access to an array of places and services.
* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he planned to issue a vaccine mandate for private-sector employers that will go into effect on Dec. 27.
* Argentina, which detected on Sunday its first case of the Omicron variant, has approved Russia’s one-dose Sputnik Light as a standalone vaccine and a booster shot, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said, citing the health ministry.
* The Omicron variant has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version remains the majority of cases, U.S. health officials said on Sunday.
* Some children in the Philippines’ capital Manila returned to school after a near two-year suspension as the country tries to get life back to normal.
* India’s cases of the Omicron variant rose to 21 over the weekend, officials said, while Nepal and Thailand detected their first cases.
* South Korea imposed stricter measures to contain growing infections and the Omicron variant.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Namibia has detected the Omicron variant in 18 of 19 samples sequenced between Nov. 11 and 26, its health ministry said.
* Nigeria criticised Britain’s decision to add the country to a travel “red list” due to coronavirus concerns as unjust and not driven by science.
* South Africa is preparing hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
* The European Union’s drug regulator recommended extending the use of Roche’s RoActemra arthritis drug for adult COVID-19 patients on systemic treatment with steroids and those who need oxygen support or mechanical ventilation.
* South Africa’s Biovac Institute will start making Pfizer-BioNTech’s, vaccine early next year after receiving the drug substance from Europe, a Pfizer executive said.
* Novartis hopes to still play a role in the development of treatments with research ongoing for a pill that could work broadly against coronaviruses, not just the one that causes COVID-19, its chief executive officer said.
* European stocks opened higher while U.S. futures also traded in the black in a tentative rebound from last week when the spread of the Omicron variant and expectations of tighter U.S. monetary policy rocked global markets.
* The South African rand firmed on signs the Omicron coronavirus variant driving a fourth wave of cases in the country may be causing mainly mild infections.
* The emergence of the Omicron variant is starting to impact shopper behaviour in Britain, researcher Springboard said.
(Compiled by Juliette Portala and Sarah Morland; Editing by Alex Richardson/Mark Heinrich)