* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not planning further restrictions in England to contain the significant growth of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, his spokesman said, as Scotland warned it could become dominant within days.
* Booster shots significantly restore protection against mild disease caused by Omicron, in part reversing an otherwise steep drop in vaccine effectiveness, the UK Health Security Agency said.
* Italy reported 118 deaths on Friday against 79 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections jumped to 20,497 from 12,527.
* Switzerland may have to impose another limited lockdown to break the momentum of rising cases that threaten to overwhelm its healthcare system, the government said.
* Cyprus has detected its first cases of Omicron, its health ministry said.
* Across France, pharmacies say they have run short of tests as cases rise and people scramble to make sure they do not risk contaminating loved ones as they meet up in the holiday season.
* Most of the 43 cases caused by Omicron identified in the US so far were in people who were fully vaccinated, and a third of them had received a booster dose, according to a US report published on Friday.
* Cases in Canada have started to increase and severity trends could also rise, Ottawa warned on Friday, saying the rapid spread of Omicron abroad should be a “serious alarm bell” for those wanting to travel.
* Brazil’s health ministry said its website was hit on Friday by a hacker attack that took several systems down, including one with information about the national immunisation program and another used to issue digital vaccination certificates.
* New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that starting next week, face coverings must be worn inside businesses and venues unless they have implemented a vaccine requirement.
* Australia has again extended biosecurity measures governing controls around who can enter and leave the country.
* Singapore will start vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 years before the end of this year, its health ministry said.
* India has detected 25 cases of Omicron and all have shown mild symptoms, the health ministry said, adding that there was no immediate plan to authorise vaccine boosters.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Ghana will vaccinate returning citizens and residents upon arrival at the airport from next Monday if they have not already received shots, its health service said.
* South African scientists flagged they see no sign Omicron is causing more severe illness. The country is preparing to offer people booster doses of the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, a senior health official said.
* Moderna said it would supply up to 150 million extra doses of its vaccine to the Gavi vaccine alliance for distribution through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility in 2022.
* The number of nurses around the world is falling further just Omicron spreads, and there is also an imbalance as Western countries step up recruitment of healthcare workers from African and other poorer countries, the International Council of Nurses said.
* AstraZeneca said it will supply Singapore with its antibody cocktail by the end of the year.
* The dollar was little changed and a gauge of global equity markets edged higher on Friday after data showed inflation increased as expected in November, easing concerns the Federal Reserve will need to aggressively tighten monetary policy.
Australian Associated Press
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‘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