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World News24

World News24

US sets world daily record of 1 million COVID cases; UK sees over 2L infections: Top 9 global updates

Posted on January 5 2022, 01:13am

US sets world daily record of 1 million COVID cases; UK sees over 2L infections: Top 9 global updates

NEW YORK: A person receives a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Medical Centre in Israel. 

Read all the latest updates on COVID-19 here.
The United States reported more than one million new COVID-19 cases on Monday after the long New Year's weekend, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as the Omicron variant spread at a blistering pace.

As the world grapples with the highly mutated Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, scientists have identified a new strain of the COVID-19 causing virus in Southern France.

Here are top 9 developments:

1. US sets global record of over 1 million daily COVID-19 cases

There were 1,080,211 new cases in the country, a global record, with the number of cases doubling the previous week. It comes a day after top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said the country was experiencing "almost a vertical increase" in COVID-19 cases, adding the peak may be only weeks away. The heavily mutated Omicron strain - the most transmissible to date - accounted for around 59 per cent of national US cases in the week ending December 25, according to government modelling.

2. UK records 218,724 cases and 48 deaths in 24 hours for first time

A further 218,724 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been recorded in England and Scotland as of 9 am on Tuesday, the Government said, the first time the figure has been over 200,000. The Government also said a further 48 people had died in England within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 1,74,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. Tuesday's figures contain some delayed reporting of cases because of the holiday period.

3. New variant 'IHU' identified in France

The Omicron COVID variant is spreading like wildfire around the world. The variant of concern has been leading to a galloping surge in COVID-19 cases across the globe. And now, a new variant of COVID-19 has emerged in France recently, according to researchers.

Named IHU, the B.1.640.2 variant was discovered by the academics at institute IHU Mediterranee Infection. According to the researchers, the new variant contains 46 mutations - even more than Omicron.

At least 12 cases of the new variant have been reported near Marseilles and has been linked to travel to the African country Cameroon. US epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding mentioned the new covid variant in a series of tweets.

4. Omicron surge could differ per country: WHO

A top World Health Organisation official says low hospitalisation and death rates in South Africa due to the omicron variant cannot be considered a template for how the variant will fare as it surges in other countries.

Dr Abdi Mahamud, COVID-19 incident manager at the U.N. health agency, notes a decoupling between case counts and deaths in the country, which first announced the emergence of the fast-spreading new variant. He said Tuesday that in terms of hospitalisations South Africa remains "very low, and the death has remained very, very low.

5. Germany relaxes restrictions on 8 nations

Germany has relaxed restrictions on travel from the UK, South Africa, and seven other southern African countries that were imposed following the emergence of the new omicron coronavirus variant.

The nine nations were removed Tuesday from Germany's list of "virus variant areas." Airlines and others are restricted largely to transporting German citizens and residents from countries on that list. All arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Germany's national disease control centre had announced on Thursday that it planned to downgrade the countries' risk status but said at the time that "short-term changes" were possible.

6. Australia's Omicron surge drives infections record, testing rush

Australia reported a record daily tally of nearly 50,000 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday as the Omicron variant raced through the population and sent people scrambling for tests.

While the Omicron surge has apparently left relatively few dangerously ill, it has driven a rush on increasingly scarce self-administered rapid antigen kits and created hours-long queues at centres providing more reliable PCR tests. Australia had successfully suppressed infections for much of the pandemic through border closures and aggressive testing and tracing.

But an earlier wave fuelled by the Delta variant dashed zero-Covid ambitions in much of the country, including the major cities Sydney and Melbourne.

7. About 10-15% of Omicron cases in UK are reinfections: Top British scientist

Data suggests that about 10 to 15% of Omicron cases in the United Kingdom are reinfections, according to the country's top scientist Dr. Neil Ferguson, who is a member of the UK government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE).

The fact that the variant is "substantially less severe" has helped the UK "undoubtedly," he told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday.

"We would be seeing much higher case numbers in hospital otherwise. And vaccines are holding up against severe disease and against severe outcomes well, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be difficult few weeks for the NHS," he said.

8. US's health agency backs FDA decision to offer booster shots after 5 months

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday backed the US Food and Drug Administration's decision to shorten the time needed between completing an initial series of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 and a booster shot from six months to five months.

The CDC also agreed with the FDA's call to authorize a third dose of the primary vaccine series for some immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11, consistent with their recommendation for adults who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

In the same announcement Monday, the FDA also authorized expanding booster eligibility to adolescents ages 12 to 15. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss this issue.

9. We can't vaccinate the planet every six months: Oxford AstraZeneca creator

Andrew Pollard, one of the creators of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, has said that giving people booster shots twice a year is "not sustainable."

Speaking to UK newspaper The Telegraph in an interview published Tuesday, Pollard said: "We can't vaccinate the planet every six months."

Pollard, who also heads up the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), stressed the "need to target the vulnerable" going forward, rather than administering doses to all those over 12 years old. More data is needed to ascertain "whether, when and how often those who are vulnerable will need additional doses," said Pollard.

US sets world daily record of 1 million COVID cases; UK sees over 2L infections: Top 9 global updates
US sets world daily record of 1 million COVID cases; UK sees over 2L infections: Top 9 global updates
US sets world daily record of 1 million COVID cases; UK sees over 2L infections: Top 9 global updates
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