(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Vaccine mandates ‘absolute last resort’, says WHO
Mandatory vaccinations against the coronavirus are a last resort, head of the World Health Organization’s Europe division, Hans Kluge, told reporters on Tuesday.
“Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted,” Kluge said.
Early indications suggest Omicron more transmissible than Delta, UK PM tells ministers
Early indications suggest that the Omicron coronavirus variant is more transmissible than the earlier Delta variant, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his top team of cabinet ministers on Tuesday.
“The prime minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron but that early indications were that it was more transmissible than Delta,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.
EU travel curbs needed till more known about Omicron
Germany’s outgoing health minister said on Tuesday that travel curbs that limit arrivals to the European Union are important until more is known about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Late in November, EU states agreed to impose travel restrictions on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant.
Britain will not require stricter domestic COVID restrictions in the run-up to Christmas because vaccines have put the country into a more resilient position than a year ago, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said.
EU health bodies recommend mix-and-match of vaccines
The European Union’s health bodies on Tuesday recommended that mixing and matching of approved COVID-19 vaccines can be done for both the initial courses and booster doses, as the region battles rising cases ahead of the holiday season.
Evidence suggests that the combination of viral vector vaccines and mRNA vaccines produces good levels of antibodies against the coronavirus causing COVID-19, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement.
Austria plans to lift lockdown, but not for the unvaccinated
Unvaccinated individuals will continue to stay in lockdown even after Austria lifts its wider coronavirus measure for the general public on Sunday, Chancellor Karl Nehammer confirmed on Tuesday, a day after he took office.
Austria’s two-week-old lockdown aimed to counter a surge in daily COVID-19 infections to record levels, with restaurants, bars, theatres, museums and non-essential shops shut to all but take-away business. Hotels are closed to tourists.
NYC expands vaccine mandates for children, private sector
New York City expanded its array of COVID-19 mandates on Monday, setting vaccine requirements for children as young as five and for workers at all private-sector companies as the highly transmissible Omicron variant pushes into more U.S. states.
The most-populous U.S. city set a Dec. 27 deadline for all 184,000 businesses within its limits to make their employees show proof they have been vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
In addition, children aged five to 11 must get at least one dose by Dec. 14 and those 12 and older need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 27 to enter restaurants and participate in extracurricular school activities.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Macfie)