Latest Covid-19 developments from around the world

People queue for a COVID-19 test as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan, New York. Agencies
People queue for a COVID-19 test as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan, New York. Agencies

PARIS: Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– Pandemic ‘nowhere near over’ –

The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says. “With the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge,” he warns.

Separately the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan warns against the notion that the pandemic becoming endemic would mean the disease was no longer dangerous.

– Johnson denies lying in ‘partygate’ –

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “categorically” denies claims by his former chief aide that he lied to parliament about a Downing Street party held during a strict lockdown.

– Catalonia to lift curfew –

Catalonia will on Friday lift a Covid-19 curfew imposed just before Christmas but other social distancing measures will remain in force in the northern Spanish region.

– UN Covid-free help for Tonga –

The United Nations says it will try to maintain Tonga’s Covid-free status in the relief effort after a volcano eruption and subsequent tsunami that hit the Pacific island nation.

– Britain moves to ease restrictions –

Scotland says it is easing coronavirus restrictions as case numbers continue to fall from record levels. Wales also begins lifting curbs and England says it will likely do so next week.

– Oil demand to overcome Omicron –

Global demand for oil is expected to remain “robust” in 2022 and overcome short-term disruption caused by the Omicron variant, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says.

– French schools chief in hot water –

France’s education minister faces calls to resign after it emerges he had announced a strict Covid testing protocol for students while on vacation on Ibiza.

– Big cats get Covid –

Three lions and two pumas in South Africa fell ill with coronavirus and the clues point to infection by their handlers, some of whom were asymptomatic, a new study finds.

– Vaccines safe during pregnancy –

Studies of pregnant women found the two most widely used Covid vaccines Pfizer and Moderna pose no risk to mothers or babies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) says.

– Anti-vax folk singer dies –

Anti-vax Czech folk singer Hana Horka has died after she deliberately contracted Covid to obtain a health pass that would have allowed her to visit the sauna and theatre, her family says.

– More than 5.5 million dead –

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,543,637 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Tuesday.

The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 851,730, followed by Brazil with 621,166, India on 486,761 and Russia 322,678.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

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