(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Australia suffers deadliest day
Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic on Tuesday as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak continued to push up hospitalisation rates to record levels, even as daily infections eased slightly.
A total of 77 deaths was recorded, exceeding the previous national high of 57 last Thursday, official data showed.
Romania sees biggest daily jump in cases in three months
Romania reported 16,760 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, more than double on the day and the biggest single-day rise since October, as the Omicron variant takes hold.
Romania is the European Union’s second-least vaccinated state, with just under 41% of the population fully inoculated amid distrust of state institutions and poor vaccine education.
Neighbouring Bulgaria reported 9,996 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, setting a new record daily tally.
Elsewhere in eastern Europe, the Czech Republic reported more than 20,000 new cases, the biggest single-day rise since Dec. 1.
Poland is experiencing a fifth wave of infections, the health minister said on Monday, warning that the spread of Omicron could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.
China’s Tianjin reports fewer COVID-19 cases
The Chinese city of Tianjin reported fewer COVID-19 cases on Tuesday after mass testing and lockdowns in some areas to curb the Omicron variant, steps that have affected the local operations of foreign firms such as Boeing.
Tianjin, a key port in northern China, reported 18 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms for Monday, National Health Commission data showed on Tuesday. That marks the lowest daily number in a week.
China is urging people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada.
Thailand to lower COVID-19 alert
Thailand will lower its COVID-19 alert level and is considering easing more restrictions to boost its economy, its health minister said on Tuesday, in response to a slower infection rate.
Among measures being considered are establishing more “sandbox” areas for tourists, who can skip quarantine if they stay in specified areas for seven days and undergo two COVID-19 tests.
Israel sees Omicron wave waning in a week
Israel will continue to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot despite preliminary findings that it is not enough to prevent Omicron infections, a senior health official said on Tuesday, predicting cases stoked by the variant will wane in a week.
The fastest country to roll out vaccinations a year ago, Israel last month started offering a fourth shot – also known as a second booster – to its most vulnerable and high-risk groups. It has held off on expanding the offer to the wider population.
Hong Kong orders hamster cull after COVID-19 hits pets
Hong Kong ordered a cull of 2,000 hamsters on Tuesday and warned pet owners not to kiss animals after a new cluster of COVID-19 cases was traced to a pet shop.
The outbreak of Delta variant cases in humans linked to the shop worker prompted tests on hundreds of animals, with 11 hamsters showing up positive.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Jason Neely)