(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Israeli study finds fourth vaccine dose boosts antibodies five-fold, PM says
A fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies five-fold a week after the shot is administered, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, citing preliminary findings of an Israeli study.
“A week into the fourth dose we know to a higher degree of certainty that the fourth dose is safe,” Bennett said at Sheba Medical Center, which is giving second booster shots in a trial among its staff amid a nationwide surge in Omicron variant infections.
WHO sees more evidence that Omicron causes milder symptoms
More evidence is emerging that the Omicron variant is affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than previous variants, a World Health Organization official said on Tuesday.
“We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body. Unlike the other ones that could cause severe pneumonia,” WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud told Geneva-based journalists, saying it could be “good news”.
People being hospitalised with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom are broadly showing less severe symptoms than before, Britain’s vaccine minister said on Tuesday.
China’s Yuzhou locks down 1.1 million residents
A Chinese city has locked down its 1.1 million residents after reports of new coronavirus cases as officials rushed to contain even small outbreaks just over four weeks before the Winter Olympics begin.
The curbs in the city of Yuzhou, in the central province of Henan, are similar to those imposed for nearly two weeks in the industrial hub of Xian, which has become China’s latest COVID-19 epicentre.
Delhi imposes weekend curfew
Authorities in Delhi on Tuesday ordered people to stay home over coming weekends having seen COVID-19 cases quadruple in a week, with its chief minister saying he had caught the virus just a day after he addressed an election rally without a mask.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the most senior elected official of the Indian capital’s administration, was one of the 37,379 new COVID-19 cases reported in India in the past 24 hours. Deaths in the past day totalled 124.
Australian cases surge
Australian COVID-19 cases soared to a pandemic record on Tuesday as the Omicron variant ripped through most of the country, driving up hospitalisation rates as the once-formidable testing regime buckled under lengthy wait times and stock shortages.
The country, which for a year and half used a system of constant testing, contact tracing and lockdowns to squash most outbreaks, clocked 47,799 new infections, up nearly a third on Monday’s number which was also a record.
Thailand urges uptake of booster shots
Thailand called on people to come forward to get booster vaccinations after reporting cases of the Omicron variant had more than doubled over the holiday period.
The Southeast Asian country has recorded 2,062 cases of Omicron so far, health official Supakit Sirilak told a news conference, up from 740 cases before the holidays.
France vows to go ahead with vaccine pass
French officials on Tuesday vowed to enact by mid-January as planned a law to block unvaccinated people from hospitality venues, despite the legislation hitting a procedural hitch in parliament overnight.
“January 15 remains our goal” for the law coming into force, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told LCI television.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Nick Macfie)