The world ushers in a new year under Covid-19 restrictions for the second time, with many hoping for a better year ahead.

As the World enters 2022, the pandemic is entering its third year.
As the World enters 2022, the pandemic is entering its third year. (Reuters)

The world has begun ushering in 2022 after another tumultuous and pandemic-ridden year, with a slight glimmer of hope for better times ahead.

The past 12 months saw a new US president and a new Adele album, the first spectator-free Olympics, and dreams of democracy from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

But it was the pandemic, now entering its third year, that again dominated life for most of humankind.

In many places, New Year's Eve celebrations on Friday were muted or canceled for the second straight year due to a surge of Covid-19 infections, this time driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Australia was among the first countries to welcome 2022 with a spectacular firework display over Sydney's Harbor Bridge and Opera House at midnight.
Australia was among the first countries to welcome 2022 with a spectacular firework display over Sydney's Harbor Bridge and Opera House at midnight. (AFP)

Australia went ahead with its celebrations despite an explosion in virus cases, with smaller than usual crowds watching thousands of fireworks lighting up the sky over Sydney and Melbourne.

Neighbouring New Zealand had earlier opted for a more low-key approach, replacing its fireworks show in Auckland with a lights display projected onto landmarks including the Sky Tower and Harbor Bridge.

6,500 candle lights were lit in at Hasedera Buddhist temple in Kamakura, Japan, for a ceremony to wish for overcoming the pandemic and good luck in 2022.
6,500 candle lights were lit in at Hasedera Buddhist temple in Kamakura, Japan, for a ceremony to wish for overcoming the pandemic and good luck in 2022. (Reuters)

In Japan, people thronged temples and shrines where they welcomed the New Year, most of them wearing masks.

Some shrugged off the virus, dining and drinking in downtown Tokyo and flocking to shops, celebrating not only the holidays but a sense of exhilaration over being freed from recent virus restrictions.

In China's eastern Shandong province, people celebrated the New Year with a lantern display in Yantai.
In China's eastern Shandong province, people celebrated the New Year with a lantern display in Yantai. (AFP)

There were no plans for public festivities in Beijing, where popular temples have been closed or had limited access since mid-December.

Popular temples in the eastern Chinese cities of Nanjing, Hangzhou and other major cities cancelled traditional New Year’s Eve “lucky bell-ringing” ceremonies.

Fireworks exploded over the Chao Phraya River during the New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand.
Fireworks exploded over the Chao Phraya River during the New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand. (Reuters)

In Thailand, authorities allowed New Year’s Eve parties and fireworks displays to continue, albeit with strict safety measures.

New Year’s Eve prayers, which are usually held in Buddhist temples around Thailand, were held online instead.

Beam lights were projected from the 123-storey Lotte World Tower skyscraper during a lighting show to celebrate the New Year in Seoul.
Beam lights were projected from the 123-storey Lotte World Tower skyscraper during a lighting show to celebrate the New Year in Seoul. (AFP)

In South Korea's capital, Seoul, the annual New Year’s Eve bell-ringing ceremony was canceled for the second straight year due to a surge in cases. 

A pre-recorded video of this year’s bell-ringing ceremony was instead broadcast online and on television.

In Indonesia, Jakarta was lit up with fireworks despite a ban on firework displays, parades and other large gatherings.
In Indonesia, Jakarta was lit up with fireworks despite a ban on firework displays, parades and other large gatherings. (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates officially welcomed the new year as the country also gave tribute on its 50th year anniversary.

The rich Gulf country differentiated its celebrations by breaking two Guinness World Records with its fireworks display in Ras Al Khaimah.

Drones with over 15,000 effects were performed in an area of over 4.7 kilometres.

Fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, during the New Year's Eve celebration in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.
Fireworks explode at the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, during the New Year's Eve celebration in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. (AP)

Istanbul and Moscow, the top vacation cities of Turkiye and Russia ushered the new year as the two countries are in the same time zone.

Countries cut back their celebration activities as a precaution against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain rings in the New Year, with fireworks displays in capitals London and Edinburgh.

Many new year celebrations cancelled across the United Kingdom. Party clubs were shut down in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK has welcomed 2022 with a massive fireworks despite Covid restrictions.
The UK has welcomed 2022 with a massive fireworks despite Covid restrictions. (AFP)
Source: TRTWorld and agencies