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File picture: Pexels

Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

By Reuters Time of article published Jan 8, 2022

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Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Friday questioned the legality of President Joe Biden's pandemic-related vaccine-or-testing mandate for large businesses but appeared more receptive to his administration's vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities at a time of surging COVID-19 cases.

EUROPE

* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and regional leaders tightened the rules for restaurant and bar visits, but shortened COVID-19 quarantine periods on Friday in response to the Omicron variant.

* Britain reported 178,250 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 229 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

* France on Friday registered 328,214 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, around 70,000 more than on the previous day but still slightly below the historic record of 332,252 new cases reached on Wednesday, official data showed.

* Romania will shorten the isolation and quarantine periods for COVID-19 positive people, their direct contacts and untested travellers from high-risk countries to varying lengths depending on whether they are vaccinated, health officials said on Friday.

AMERICAS

* COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States are poised to hit a new high as early as Friday, according to a Reuters tally, surpassing the record set in January of last year as the highly contagious Omicron variant fuels a surge in infections.

* Citigroup Inc staff in the United States who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted an exemption, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

* Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos on Friday warned some of the country's 10 provinces that they needed to do more to fight the Omicron coronavirus variant and prevent healthcare systems from being swamped.

* Mexico's health regulator has granted authorization for emergency use of drugmaker Merck's COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* India's daily COVID-19 cases jumped to 117,100, a five-fold increase in a week and on course to overtake its previous infection peak.

* Thailand will extend the suspension of its quarantine waiver programme and bring in new restrictions after a jump in new coronavirus cases linked to the Omicron variant

* Japan is to step up restrictions in three regions that host U.S. military bases.

AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST

* COVID-19 infections continued to disrupt Africa Cup of Nations preparations as Egypt cancelled training and delayed their departure to the tournament in Cameroon while Guinea were forced to leave three players behind at their training base in Rwanda.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* COVID-19 hospitalizations in young children have reached their highest level yet in the United States, as Omicron fuels a major surge in cases, but it is not clear yet whether the variant causes more severe disease in young children, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

* Booster jabs are still providing high levels of protection for older people against severe disease from the Omicron coronavirus variant and there is no need for now for people to have a fourth shot, British health officials said.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* There is still enough money in state and federal government coffers to help businesses, homeowners and schools get through the latest coronavirus wave propelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, White House economic adviser Cecilia Rouse said on Friday.

* The Italian government is preparing new support measures to be approved next week to help companies whose business is being hit by a surge in coronavirus infections, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Reuters

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