Omicron outbreak across the world: UK reports its first death from new COVID-19 variant; China records first case

According to the World Health Organization, 63 countries have recorded cases of Omicron till 9 December.

FP Staff December 14, 2021 10:58:16 IST
Omicron outbreak across the world: UK reports its first death from new COVID-19 variant; China records first case

People queue to go for coronavirus booster jabs at St Thomas' Hospital, in London. AP

First detected in South Africa, the potentially more virulent Omicron COVID-19 variant is now spreading around the world. According to the World Health Organization, after it was discovered at the end of November, as of 9 December, the variant had been confirmed in 63 countries.

Here are the latest updates from across the globe as it spreads.

UK

On Monday, the United Kingdom announced its first Omicron death.

The UK is struggling to cope with the new variant, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid telling MPs that Omicron now represented 20 percent of cases in England.

On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had declared an “Omicron emergency” in the UK and decided to start booster doses for everyone above the age of 18 from this week, the BBC reported.

“I’m afraid we’re now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron,” UK prime minister Boris Johnson was quoted as having said in a TV statement on Sunday evening. “No one should be in any doubt, there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.”

He added: “It is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need. But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose, a booster dose, we can all bring our level of protection back up.”

Experts have told the government that Omicron could cause between 25,000 and 75,000 deaths in England over the next five months without tougher COVID-19 restrictions.

Germany

The European giant, in the midst of a crippling fourth wave, has reported 82 Omicron cases, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

As well as new restrictions, Germany is moving towards making vaccination against the virus mandatory.

France

As of 13 December, France has now identified 59 positive cases of the Omicron variant. Of the 59 confirmed cases, 21 were detected in people returning from southern Africa.

Canada

Canada's chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tham has said that the new Omicron variant and COVID-19 cases are likely to jump soon as the country witnesses community spread.

In Ontario, which has a whopping 40 percent of Canada's population, there has been a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days. The province reported 1,536 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a more-than 70 percent jump from a week ago, including 80 cases of the Omicron variant, which has spread across over 60 countries since being first detected last month.

China

Mainland China also reported its first case of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in the northern city of Tianjin.

The Chinese authorities reported on Monday that the Omicron case was detected on 9 December from an overseas returnee, who showed no symptoms on arrival. The patient is being quarantined and treated in a designated hospital.

The first Omicron case in Tianjin comes as nearby Beijing gears up for the Winter Olympics, which are to be held in February.

Norway

Norway has announced new COVID-19 curbs as its struggles to contain the Omicron variant.

As of Monday, the country had detected 958 Omicron infections, of which 472 were in the capital Oslo.

As per AFP reports, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store warned of a "serious" situation in which the Delta variant and the new, highly transmissible Omicron strain would create "a total saturation of the health system".

In an effort to fight the variant, the gap between second and third COVID-19 jabs for over-45s and health workers will be reduced to four-and-a-half months, with booster shots offered by mid-January.

Bars and restaurants will not be able to serve alcohol, remote working will be compulsory where possible, mask mandates will be extended and access to public swimming pools and gyms restricted.

The measures will come into force overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday and are due to last four weeks.

With inputs from agencies

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