Covid-19 has infected more than 332M people and killed over 5.5M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

France also reported 288 new deaths and 3,900 people in intensive care units.
France also reported 288 new deaths and 3,900 people in intensive care units. (AP)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

France registers record daily infections since pandemic began

France has registered 464,769 new infections over the last 24 hours, the highest ever-recorded tally since the start of the pandemic.

The number of people in intensive care units slightly decreased in the same period to around 3,900.

The country also reported 288 coronavirus deaths in hospital, bringing the total number to 100,339.

WHO: No evidence healthy children need boosters

There is no evidence at present that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s head scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.

Speaking at a news briefing, she said that while there seems to be some waning of vaccine immunity over time against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, more research needs to be done to ascertain who needs booster doses.

Meanwhile, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva the "pandemic is nowhere near over".

Tedros warned against dismissing as mild the variant Omicron, which has spread like wildfire around the globe since it was first detected in southern Africa in November.

Italy reports over 400 deaths

Italy has reported 228,179 related cases, against 83,403 the day before, while the number of deaths rose to 434 from 287.

Italy has registered 141,825 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth highest in the world. 

The country has reported 9.02 million cases to date.

Russia shortens isolation to 7 days as cases surge

Russian authorities have shortened the required isolation period for people infected from 14 to seven days as the country faces another surge of cases, this time driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said that Russia had so far recorded 1,682 cases of the Omicron variant across 42 regions, as authorities brace for a significant rise in infections.

Merck to supply UNICEF with 3M courses of Covid-19 pill

Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have said they signed an agreement with UNICEF to supply up to 3 million courses of their antiviral pill.

Merck would supply the pill, molnupiravir, to UNICEF through the first half of 2022 for distribution in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries upon regulatory authorisations, the companies said.

The pill received authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration in December and has also been authorised in several other countries including India, Mexico and the UK.

Indonesia reports over 1,300 new cases

Indonesia recorded 1,362 further cases, the biggest single day increase since October 8, taking total cases in the Southeast Asian country to 4.27 million, official data showed.

Japan’s daily virus tally at record high

Japan has reported record high Covid-19 cases as the omicron variant flooded the country.

According to the country’s health authorities, Japan reported more than 26,000 virus cases today, the highest through the pandemic which began in December 2019.

Earlier, Japan had recorded 25,992 Covid-19 cases on August 20 last year, Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

Pakistan sees 30 percent surge in mental illnesses due to Covid-19

Pakistan has seen a 30 percent spike in mental illnesses caused by the coronavirus in recent months, recent surveys and health specialists said.

The latest survey conducted by the Sindh Mental Health Authority, a state-run government organisation that provides mental health services in southern Sindh province, showed that depression and suicidal thoughts are the major problems developed among coronavirus patients or even those who have recovered.

Senator Karim Khawaja, who heads the mental authority, told Anadolu Agency that around 40 percent of the 1,500 survey respondents have report

China urges caution opening overseas mail after Omicron case

China has urged people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron coronavirus virus variant found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada.

Authorities vowed to step up disinfection of overseas mail and are insisting postal staff handling it are fully vaccinated.

The precautions come less than three weeks before the capital opens the Winter Olympic Games and as several cities work to stamp out new outbreaks of coronavirus infections.

Hong Kong to cull 2,000 hamsters as some test Covid-positive

Hong Kong authorities said that they will cull some 2,000 hamsters after several of the rodents tested positive for the virus at a pet store where an infected employee was working.

Officials said they would also stop the sale and import of the rodents in the city. The move came after the pet shop employee tested positive for the delta variant. Several of the hamsters tested positive for the coronavirus as well.

Even though authorities acknowledged that there is “no evidence” that pets can transmit the coronavirus to humans, as a precautionary measure, customers who had purchased hamsters from the affected store after January.

China records another 127 local virus cases 

China recorded another 127 indigenous Covid-19 cases, the country’s health authority said.

In a statement, National Health Commission said the Chinese mainland recorded 127 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, mostly in central Henan province.

The data showed 102 virus cases were detected in Henan, 18 in northern Tianjin city while one each case was recorded in capital Beijing and northwestern Shaanxi province.

Omicron drives up hospital cases in Australia 

Australia has suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic as a fast-moving Omicron outbreak continued to push up hospitalisation rates to record levels, even as daily infections eased slightly.

Australia is dealing with its worst outbreak, fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that has put more people in hospitals and intensive care than at any time during the pandemic.

A total of 74 deaths were registered by late morning between New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, Australia's three most populous states, exceeding the previous national high of 57 last Thursday, official data showed.

"Today, is a very difficult day for our state," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said during a media briefing as the state reported 36 deaths, a new pandemic high.

Greece to fine unvaccinated elderly

Unvaccinated people over 60 years of age in Greece will be fined, local media have said, in bid to raise relieve pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

The fine will be $57) for January and $114) from February to raise inoculation levels and relieve pressure, local daily Kathimerini reported.

Ninety percent of people over 60 have been vaccinated or have booked a vaccination appointment since the fine was announced, the report added,

However, an estimated 300,000 people could face a penalty.

In the country, medical professionals who have not received a shot against Covid-19 have already been suspended and face the prospect of being sacked if they fail to comply with vaccination rules.

Hong Kong arrests flight attendants over rule violation

Hong Kong police have said they have arrested and charged two former flight attendants over allegations they broke the city's coronavirus rules.

The statement, which was published late on Monday, did not name the airline but the announcement comes after Cathay Pacific said in January it had fired two aircrew who were suspected of breaching Covid-19 protocols.

Police said the two had returned to Hong Kong from the United States on December 24 and 25 where they had "conducted unnecessary activities" during their home isolation period.

They both later tested positive for the fast-spreading Omicron strain.

Israeli study shows fourth dose has limited effect

Fourth doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against Covid-19 are only "partially" effective for the Omicron variant of the virus, the authors of an Israeli trial have said.

A team from Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv began conducting a trial in December on fourth doses of coronavirus vaccines, inoculating 154 hospital personnel with Pfizer jabs and 120 other volunteers with Moderna doses.

Brazil registers more Covid cases

Brazil has had 74,134 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 121 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry has said.

The South American country has now registered 23,074,791 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 621,166, according to ministry data.

Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll is the world's third deadliest after the United States and Russia, according to Reuters calculations.

Mexico sees 59 more deaths

Mexico has reported 59 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the official death toll in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began to 301,469.

Fifth wave in Poland

Poland is in the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the health minister has said, adding that he expected the country to report over 20,000 daily cases on Tuesday and a peak of 60,000 in mid-February.

"In today's results, which we will report in full tomorrow, there is a risk that the barrier of 20,000 infections will be broken," Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies