Covid worldwide: What you need to know

covid-vaccine
Covid Worldwide: What You Need To Know Covid Worldwide: What You Need To Know
The Omicron variant is leading to a surge in case numbers around the world. Photo: Getty Images
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Cases surge worldwide

Daily Covid-19 infections have hit record highs across Europe, the United States and Australia as the new Omicron variant races out of control, keeping workers at home and overwhelming testing centres.

Almost two years after China first reported a cluster of "viral pneumonia" cases in the city of Wuhan, the regularly mutating coronavirus is wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, forcing governments to rethink quarantine and testing rules.

Although some studies have suggested the Omicron variant is less deadly than some of its predecessors, the huge numbers of people testing positive mean hospitals in some countries might soon be overwhelmed, while businesses might struggle to carry on operating because of workers having to quarantine.

In Ireland, a new daily record for infections was recorded on Christmas Day, when 13,765 additional cases were confirmed by the Department of Health, however Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said this wave of infections is expected to peak "in the next week or so".

China's Xian in lockdown

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A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with many unable to leave their residential compounds and relying on deliveries of necessities as new Covid infections persisted.

Xian reported 151 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, or nearly all of the 152 cases nationwide, bringing the total number of local Xian cases to nearly 1,000 during the Decemeber 9th-28th period. No cases of the Omicron variant have been announced in the city so far.

Japan braces for Omicron spread

Japan was poised for a rebound in cases due to high levels of travel ahead of New Year festivities.

The governors of the metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka urged residents to keep end-of-year gatherings small as more cases of the Omicron variant come to light, including a suspected cluster at an Osaka nursing home.

Thai 'super-spreader' event

Thai health authorities warned residents to brace for a potential jump in cases after classifying the country's first cluster of Omicron cases as a "super-spreader" incident, during which a disease is spread more broadly than usual.

The cluster identified in the northeastern province of Kalasin on Christmas Eve has been linked to a couple who had travelled from Belgium and visited bars, concerts and markets.

UK hospital risk

British prime minister Boris Johnson has warned that the overwhelming majority of patients ending up in intensive care with CCovid in the UK had not received their booster vaccine, as he urged people to get their jabs.

Britain is reporting record Covid infections, with 129,471 registered on Tuesday, driven by the Omicron variant. There have also been anecdotal reports of people struggling to get tests.

New York to limit classroom closures

New York City will stop quarantining entire classrooms exposed to Covid and will instead prioritise a ramped-up testing program so asymptomatic students testing negative can remain in school, officials said on Tuesday.

A day earlier, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of the virus to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.

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