Omicron’s march revives pressing international requires vaccinations By Reuters

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© Reuters. A patient waits after receiving his or her booster vaccination against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) December 21, 2021 at the North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac, Michigan, United States. REUTERS / Emily Elconin

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s political leaders should hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday as cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus broke infection records and forced countries around the world to double their vaccinations just days before Christmas.

Authorities around the world have imposed new restrictions and stepped up vaccination efforts as Omicron emerges as the dominant strain of the virus, and impending reopening plans that many governments have hoped will usher in a post-pandemic era in 2022 Turned upside down.

Singapore will freeze all new ticket sales for flights and buses as part of its quarantine-free travel program to the city-state from December 23 to January 20, the government said on Wednesday, citing the risk of the rapidly expanding Omicron.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday promised half a billion free rapid COVID-19 tests and warned the quarter of American adults who are not vaccinated that their choices could mean the “difference between life and death.”

In response to the surge in cases, Asia Pacific countries are also trying to reduce the time between second vaccinations and booster vaccinations. However, fearing the fatigue of the public lockdown, there is reluctance to revert to the severe restrictions imposed during the proliferation of the Delta variant earlier this year.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday called on the country’s leaders to reopen hundreds of vaccination centers to hasten the introduction of booster vaccinations after they closed as demand slowed as the double dose in people over 16 Years exceeded 80%.

“This is a very important part of today’s discussion,” said Morrison ahead of an early national cabinet meeting on Wednesday, attended by government and state leaders.

Decisions about bringing forward the planned vaccination would depend on expert advice.

Australia reported more than 5,000 daily infections during the pandemic for the first time on Wednesday, beating the previous high of around 4,600 a day earlier, with the bulk of the cases in its most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria.

Despite the Omicron surge, Morrison ruled out lockdowns Tuesday, insisting that limiting the spread of the virus was a personal responsibility.

There was also resistance to new lockdowns in South Korea, where authorities announced restrictions on gatherings and hours of operation for restaurants, cafes and bars.

While polls still show widespread support for South Korea’s new curbs, some of the toughest yet, many small businesses have complained that the restrictions are causing them to be overstaffed and cluttered as they prepare for a holiday season with looser rules to have.

Small business and restaurant associations protested the decision and demanded compensation, with one of the groups promising to hold a demonstration on Wednesday.

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Hans Kluge, the European head of the World Health Organization, warned on Tuesday of a “storm” that Omicron would bring with it and which “would drive the already tense health systems further to the edge”.

Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among the countries that have reintroduced partial or full bans or other social distancing measures in the past few days.

Portugal ordered nightclubs and bars to close and urged people to work from home for at least two weeks starting Saturday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not put any new COVID-19 restrictions in England before Christmas, but the situation remains extremely difficult and the government may need to act accordingly.

Governments have stepped up vaccination and treatment efforts with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve COVID-19 treatment pills from Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and Merck, Bloomberg News reported.

Israel will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60.

For now, financial markets have resumed the Omicron spread with ease, having recouped some of the heavy losses suffered after the virus headlines earlier this week.

However, policymakers are scrambling to manage the economic impact that new outbreaks could create, with the UK announcing £ 1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) of additional support for companies hardest hit by Omicron.

With much not yet known about the severity of Omicron infections, companies are also concerned about a number of cancellations affecting major events in the New Year.

The North American National Hockey League will not be sending its players to the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Not only would the league players of the US and Canadian ice hockey teams be affected, but also those of the Olympic squads of Sweden, Finland and Germany.

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