More infectious Omi Kron Coronavirus variants seem to cause milder disease than the world’s major Delta strain, but this has not stopped the government from tightening restrictions to prevent another wave of large-scale infections.
The United Nations health agency stated in its weekly report on the pandemic that there are 9,520,488 new cases every week-41,178 deaths were recorded last week, compared to 44,680 the previous week.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adanom Gebrejesus warned earlier this week that although the number of cases appears to be large compared to previous weeks, this number is due to the backlog of testing around the year-end holidays. It must be underestimated.
The following is a quick overview of the latest developments:
Authorities in the Chinese port city of Tianjin said that after 20 children and adults tested positive for COVID-19, they began a city-wide testing campaign for its 14 million residents, and at least two of them detected the Omicron variant.
The infected persons included 15 students, an after-school center staff and four parents. The activity will be completed in two days.
The announcement on Sunday came as China strengthened its zero tolerance strategy against COVID-19 on the eve of the Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to open in Beijing on February 4.
The Chinese capital is located approximately 115 kilometers (71 miles) northwest of Tianjin and is connected by a high-speed railway that takes less than an hour.
The first two cases confirmed in Tianjin were a 10-year-old girl and a 29-year-old woman working in an after-school center. Both were infected by Omicron. In subsequent tests of close contacts, as of Saturday night, the other 18 had tested positive and 767 had tested negative.
Indian authorities reported 159,632 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, forcing several states to implement new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
India’s richest state of Maharashtra said it will close swimming pools and gyms from Monday, while schools and universities will be closed until February 15, after the state’s daily number of cases jumped to more than 41,000.
The state government stated that only fully vaccinated people can enter private offices and limit the number of people to 50% of the total workforce.
In the neighboring state of Gujarat, the authorities have extended the curfew and cancelled the vacation of all medical staff.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting later on Sunday to review the COVID-19 situation.
The Ministry of Health reported 327 new deaths, bringing the official death toll since the beginning of the pandemic to 483,790. The total number of infections is 35.52 million.
Israel has begun a fourth jab to its most at-risk groups, announcing that it will relax access to home COVID-19 testing to allow people to decide whether to isolate at home amidst shortages in stores and complaints about high prices.
“We are aware of the suffering of the public,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the weekly cabinet meeting, announcing that three sets of free kits will be distributed to every child in Israeli kindergartens or elementary schools in the coming days.
Bennett said the government is still negotiating price cuts with major pharmacy chains, adding: “In any case, costs will drop in the near future because the market will be flooded with millions of kits that will reach Israel.”
These kits are sold for 25 to 35 shekels (8 to 11 US dollars) in Israeli stores, many of which have been reported to have been used up. The Director-General of the Ministry of Health Nachman Ash told Radio 103 FM that the unit price should not exceed 10 shekels (3 US dollars).
With the surge in COVID-19 infections and long queues at mandatory testing stations for hours, Israel said last week that only people over 60 years of age or with weakened immune systems need PCR and professionally managed antigen testing.
Other vaccinated people can now rely on home tests, but some are skeptical about the effectiveness of these tests.
Data released on Sunday showed that more than 10 million coronavirus cases were registered in Africa.
Statistics from the African Centers for Disease Control show that since the outbreak of the pandemic, a total of 10,028,508 cases have been reported in the 55 member states of the African Union.