In South Africa
, in the week since it alerted the world of the new Covid variant, infections have spread faster than in the country’s three previous waves. Wassila Jassat
, from the Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), said: “We’ve seen quite a sharp increase across all age groups, particularly in the under fives,” referring to hospitalisations.
NICD’s head of public health Michelle Groome
said the virus was spreading faster than at any point in the pandemic in Gauteng, the province where Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria are located. “Preliminary data suggests Omicron is more transmissible and has some immune evasion,” she said.
In contrast, India
’s health ministry today has said it expects the Omicron variant of coronavirus to cause less severe disease. “Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant … the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low,” the ministry said in a statement. “However, scientific evidence is still evolving.”
, World Health Organization regional director for the western Pacific, told a virtual media briefing: “Border controls can buy time but every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases.
’s health minister Jens Spahn
has said that more than 1% of the population is currently infected with the coronavirus. He said that the number of unvaccinated residents who are infected and seriously ill is much higher than their share of the overall population.
reported 15,278 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic broke out
at least 17 people who came down with Covid-19 after a Christmas party gathering of more than 100 guests in Oslo
are suspected of having the Omicron variant, city officials said.
Conservative party chair Oliver Dowden
has told the UK
to “keep calm and carry on with your Christmas plans as already set out.”
Doctors in the UK
have urged unvaccinated Black and south Asian people to get their Covid jabs
after new data revealed hospitalisations and deaths are higher in those groups, despite infection rates being lower than in white people.
’s health minister Olivier Véran
said the current wave of the country’s Covid disease could peak in late January, with a renewed strain put on the country’s hospital system.
, the Fair Work Commission has ruled a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all workers at BHP’s Mt Arthur coalmine was unlawful
because the company did not consult adequately with its workers.
That it is from me, Martin Belam, this week. I will be back on Monday. Miranda Bryant has our UK politics and Covid live blog. Caroline Davies will be here shortly to continue bringing you the latest coronavirus developments from around the world.