Australia will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 from Jan. 10 and U.S. regulators expanded eligibility for booster shots to 16- and 17-year-olds amid rising concerns about the new Omicron variant. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news EUROPE
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced mounting pressure after his Conservatives lost their poll lead over Labour and it was revealed that his chief spokesman attended a festive gathering in Downing Street during a lockdown last year. * Traditional Christmas markets have opened in Budapest’s main squares only for people vaccinated against COVID-19, but have drawn many tourists and local people alike even as central Europe battles a renewed surge of the coronavirus.
* European Union countries are expected to agree to limit to nine months the duration of COVID-19 certificates for travel around the bloc, three EU sources told Reuters. AMERICAS
* Dozens of U.S. Navy medics have deployed to New Mexico to treat a Delta variant-fueled surge in patients as part of a military operation to treat virus hotspots across Western and Midwest states. * As the pandemic raged, Canadian government inspectors frequently deemed the employers of migrant workers compliant with health and safety rules despite a lack of evidence, according to an Auditor General report.
ASIA-PACIFIC * South Korea will further cut the interval for booster vaccines for all adults from four to five months to three, officials said, as it struggles to fight record levels of infections amid concerns over the Omicron variant.
* Japan has detected eight new cases of the Omicron variant, broadcaster Fuji TV reported, citing an unnamed government source. * Singapore has detected its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant in a member of staff at the city state’s airport, authorities said, warning that more Omicron cases are likely to be detected.
* The Philippines will ban entry by people who have recently travelled to Portugal. MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South African scientists see no sign that the Omicron variant is causing more severe illness as officials announced plans to roll out vaccine boosters with daily infections approaching an all-time high. * Ghana will vaccinate returning citizens and residents against COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport from next Monday if they have not already received shots, its health service said, amid concerns over low take-up of vaccinations.
MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS * Germany’s vaccination advisory commission recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is given to children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions.
* The European Union’s drugs regulator said it could make sense to administer vaccine boosters as early as three months after the initial two-shot regimen. ECONOMIC IMPACT
* Asian shares and European futures slipped as traders edged away from riskier assets amid renewed concerns about COVID-19 and caution ahead of key U.S. inflation data, which also kept currencies in check. * Oil prices were on track for their biggest weekly gain since late August, with market sentiment buoyed by easing concerns over the Omicron variant’s impact on global economic growth and fuel demand.
* The Bank of Japan is expected to decide as early as next week to scale back emergency funding deployed last year to combat a pandemic-induced cash crunch, sources say, following other central banks in gradually phasing out crisis-mode policies.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort