MADRID – Spain’s Prime Minister has ruled out any immediate national restrictions in response to the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said official data shows that although omicron is spreading faster, it has generally caused milder symptoms and therefore put less pressure on Spanish hospitals than previous strains. He also cited the country’s high vaccination rate of over 80%.
“It is clear that we are in a radically different situation,” Sánchez told reporters at his year-end press conference. “We are better and better prepared to take on the omicron variant.”
Sánchez confirmed that a panel of regional leaders and central health authorities would debate a proposal to shorten the period of mandatory isolation for people who test positive but show no symptoms of COVID-19.
Spanish authorities plan to reduce the timeframe from 10 to five days, following the United States, Greece and other countries. Staff absences due to the virus have canceled trains and resulted in further service disruptions in Spain.
Data from the Ministry of Health showed that Spain confirmed 100,000 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the 14-day infection rate to 1,360 cases per 100,000 population, nearly double the level of a week or so. early.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
– Asia keeps omicron at bay, but a push may be inevitable
– WHO: Global COVID cases up 11% last week, high omicron risk
– California 1st United States state at top 5 million cases amid increase in omicron
– Stricter Canadian Rules complicating the NHL’s push through the pandemic
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage on https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENS TODAY:
PARIS – The French government is moving forward in efforts to increase pressure on unvaccinated people to receive coronavirus injections, as the omicron variant is fueling a record increase in infections.
In a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister of Health plans to defend a plan by the French government to allow only fully vaccinated people to access places such as restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums and sports arenas.
Speeding up the introduction of the so-called ‘vaccine pass’ is part of a government strategy to use vaccinations, rather than new blockages, in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the omicron variant. rapidly spreading to already overcrowded hospitals.
France reported nearly 180,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a daily record, and is preparing for the number to continue to rise, with forecasts warning of more than 250,000 probable daily infections by January.
France has vaccinated more than 75% of its population and is accelerating booster injections, but more than 4 million adults in the country are still not vaccinated.
The government wants the vaccine pass requirement to be in place by mid-January. If approved by parliament, the plan would mean that unvaccinated people will no longer be able to use negative test results to visit places where the pass is required.
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea is extending protective measures against the omicron variant of the coronavirus for an additional four weeks.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Wednesday that short-term foreign travelers from 11 African countries will continue to be banned from entering the country, while all other international arrivals will be subject to a quarantine. 10 days until February 3.
The agency says South Korea has reported 109 new daily cases of COVID-19 involving the omicron variant, the highest 24-hour tally since the country confirmed its first omicron case on December 1.
The delta variant still accounts for the vast majority of new cases in South Korea, but experts say omicron could become the dominant strain in the country in the coming months.
South Korea recorded 5,409 new cases on Wednesday, and the number of critically and critically ill patients hit a record 1,151.
JERUSALEM – Israel has lifted its travel ban to dozens of European and African countries, including Italy and Germany, even as the country’s coronavirus infection rate continues to rise.
But the Israeli government’s Corona cabinet on Wednesday approved Mexico’s redlisting, adding it to a travel ban that includes the US, UK and Canada.
Israel has largely closed its borders to travel following the emergence of the highly infectious variant of omicron last month. It has seen new daily infections more than double over the past week, despite a successful vaccination campaign.
More than 4.2 million of the 9.3 million Israelis have received a coronavirus booster since they were cleared in July. Earlier this week, a large hospital launched a trial to study the effect of a fourth dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine on medical staff.
Israel has recorded at least 8,243 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began almost two years ago.
BERLIN – Germany’s Minister for International Development has said her country plans to donate an additional 75 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to poorer countries.
Minister Svenja Schulze told press group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland in comments published on Wednesday that Germany had reached its goal of giving 100 million doses by 2021.
She added: “But we can’t stop there. For next year, we are planning a new donation of at least 75 million doses.
Schulze said she agreed with Germany’s health minister that donations could not come at the expense of the country’s own vaccination campaign, which officials are working to keep up to speed higher as the new omicron variant progresses.
But she said “we agree that we can do both things: provide our own people and those of the poorest countries”.
SYDNEY – Coronavirus cases rose across Australia on Wednesday as an epidemic of the omicron variant exploded, prompting Prime Minister Scott Morrison to schedule an emergency national cabinet meeting.
The wave has already swamped testing stations, prompted new vaccine mandates, and prompted at least one state to cut back on elective surgeries.
New infections in Sydney and surrounding areas of New South Wales state soared to more than 11,000, from 6,000 a day earlier. Victoria state also reported a record 3,700 cases, up more than 1,000 from the previous record set on Tuesday.
Morrison said the country’s leaders would meet earlier than scheduled on Thursday.
“As omicron continues to move forward, we will see new pressures, but states and territories are working closely together on their plans to address these challenges,” Morrison told reporters.
He said he hoped the meeting would help give a clearer definition of what constituted close contact and what tests should be used in different circumstances as the number of cases skyrocketed.
NEW YORK – The Broadway cover of “The Music Man” was one of the city’s most popular tickets and it limped without co-star Sutton Foster. But now the show is closed until the New Year because Hugh Jackman has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Jackman took to social media on Tuesday to announce he had tested positive. He says although his symptoms are mild with only a sore throat and runny nose, he needs to be quarantined.
Some Broadway shows have been closed for several days and some have gone down completely due to virus cases “Thoughts of a Colored Man” joined “Waitress” and “Jagged Little Pill” as shows that closed this winter in part due to increased rates of infection.
HONOLULU – The University of Hawaii will primarily run online classes during the first two weeks of the spring semester as the state sees an increase in cases of the omicron coronavirus.
Hawaii has seen a record breaking daily COVID-19 count in recent days. University of Hawaii officials said island campuses will temporarily move many classrooms to online education.
In an email to students and staff, University of Hawaii President David Lassner said only classes that can be “effectively taught online” will change.
The other courses will be given in person but with physical distancing, wearing of the mask and health screenings in place
ATLANTA – The president of Emory University said on Tuesday that the school was switching to virtual classes to start the spring semester due to a nationwide increase in COVID cases fueled by the omicron variant.
In a letter to the college community, President Gregory Fenves said Emory will return to in-person learning on January 31 if conditions permit.
The shift to distance learning applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional courses. University residences will remain open, although students are encouraged to delay their return to campus.
COVID-19 infections in the Atlanta area, where Emory is located, are increasing rapidly.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Georgia rose to nearly 8,700 per day on Monday, according to the state’s public health department. This is approaching the peaks Georgia saw in the number of infections in early January and early September.