Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus

AAPReuters
A slew of countries have barred travel from southern Africa as concerns grow over the Omicron strain
Camera IconA slew of countries have barred travel from southern Africa as concerns grow over the Omicron strain Credit: AP

EUROPE

* The WTO became the first major diplomatic casualty of the new coronavirus variant when it postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years due to the deteriorating health situation, Geneva-based sources said.

* EU states have agreed to suspend travel from southern Africa after the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, named by the WHO as Omicron.

* The Dutch government ordered further restrictions including a night-time closure of bars, restaurants and most stores to stem a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.

* Ireland will make booster shots available to all adults.

AMERICAS

* US President Joe Biden said his administration was not considering new vaccine mandates following the discovery of the Omicron variant.

* The United States will bar entry to most travellers from eight southern African countries beginning next week over concerns about the new strain.

* Canada is closing its borders to foreign travellers who have recently been to seven southern African nations, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters.

* France has postponed implementing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health workers in Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests on the French territories.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Hong Kong was among the first places to identify a case of the new variant outside South Africa and issued a travel-ban for non-residents arriving from eight southern African states.

* India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South Africa said imposing restrictions on travellers from the country because of a newly identified COVID-19 variant was unjustified.

* Egypt, Iran, the UAE and Israel have all suspended entry for travellers from southern Africa.

* South Africa's rand sank to its lowest level since October 2020 and its president will convene a coronavirus council on Sunday.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Novavax said it had started working on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the variant detected in South Africa and would have the shot ready for testing and manufacturing in the next few weeks.

* AstraZeneca said it was examining the impact of Omicron on its vaccine and its antibody cocktail, adding it was hopeful its combination drug would retain efficacy.

* Merck said updated data from its study of its experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug was significantly less effective in cutting hospitalisations and deaths than previously reported.

* BioNTech said it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer would have to be reworked.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Shares tumbled on Wall Street on Friday as they reopened after Thanksgiving, while European stocks saw their biggest sell-off in 17 months and oil prices plunged by $US10 per barrel.

GLOBAL

DEATHS 5,205,175

CASES 260,820,461

RECOVERED 235,609,370

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