Omicron Surges Worldwide

  • Japan widens virus restrictions as omicron surges in cities …
  • Russia hits all-time high of new infections, blames omicron …
  • Australia records deadliest day of pandemic with 80 deaths …
  • Japan widens virus restrictions as omicron surges in cities …
  • Poland hits pandemic record of over 36,600 daily infections …
  • Nepal imposes tough restrictions as virus cases set record …

Japan widens virus restrictions as omicron surges in cities 

Jan 21, 2022 By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Restaurants and bars will close early in Tokyo and a dozen other areas across Japan beginning Friday as the country widens COVID-19 restrictions due to the omicron variant, which has caused cases to surge to new highs in metropolitan areas.

The restraint, which is something of a pre-state of emergency, is the first since September and is scheduled to last through Feb. 13. With three other prefectures — Okinawa, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi — under similar measures since early January, the state of restraint now covers 16 areas, or one-third of the country.

While many Japanese adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, few have gotten a booster shot, which has been a vital protection from the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry on Friday approved Pfizer vaccinations for children aged 5-11, who are increasingly vulnerable to infection …

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“After more than two years of repeated restraints and social distancing requests, Japanese are increasingly becoming less cooperative to such measures.”

Russia hits all-time high of new infections, blames omicron

MOSCOW (AP) — Daily new coronavirus infections in Russia reached an all-time high Friday and authorities blamed the highly contagious omicron variant, which they expect to soon dominate the country’s outbreak.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova on Friday noted “intensive spread of the omicron variant” and said the authorities “expect it to become the dominating” variant driving the outbreak. The state coronavirus task force Golikova heads reported 49,513 new infections on Friday — the highest yet in the pandemic.

Record numbers of 15,987 new cases and 5,922 cases were reported respectively in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. In light of the surge, health officials in St. Petersburg on Friday limited elective outpatient care.

Golikova on Friday urged Russians who received their vaccinations or recovered from the virus more than six months ago to “head to a vaccination point again in order to protect yourself from the virus” with a booster … 

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Australia records deadliest day of pandemic with 80 deaths

But Dominic Perrottet, premier of the most populous state, New South Wales, said a slight decrease in hospitalizations gave him some hope about the strain the outbreak is putting on the health system.

The previous record of 78 deaths was set on Tuesday. There have been just under 3,000 coronavirus deaths in Australia since the pandemic began.

New South Wales, home to Sydney, reported a record 46 deaths. They included a baby who died from COVID-19 in December, one of several historical cases that were investigated.

The news came after the premier of Western Australia state, Mark McGowan, backed down on a promise to reopen the state to the rest of the country on Feb. 5.

In a late-night news conference on Thursday, McGowan said reopening the state as planned would be “reckless and irresponsible” given the large number of COVID-19 cases in other states. No new date has been set for when the state might relax its border closure.

The border decision means neither Prime Minister Scott Morrison nor opposition leader Anthony Albanese can campaign in the state for now. An election is due to be held by May 21.

Poland hits pandemic record of over 36,600 daily infections

Waldemar Kraska said that 1,390 among the new cases were confirmed as caused by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Health care authorities are expecting up to 50,000 new daily infections next week, saying the fifth wave will be a tough challenge to the system, which has some 31,000 hospital beds prepared for coronavirus patients.

Many medics are saying the already overloaded system is not prepared to handle so many cases, especially under staff shortages and exhaustion.

There were 248 deaths among coronavirus patients reported Friday, a significant drop from almost 800 daily in late December. The have been over 103,000 deaths in Poland since the start of the pandemic.

The vaccination rate is almost 57% in this nation of some 38 million, and some 9 million people have received booster shots.

Nepal imposes tough restrictions as virus cases set record

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s capital shut schools, ordered citizens to carry vaccination cards in public, banned religious festivals and instructed hotel guests to be tested every three days as it battles its biggest COVID-19 outbreak.

The chief government administrator of Kathmandu issued a notice on Friday saying all people must carry their vaccination cards when they are in public areas or shop in stores.

Nepal, however, has only fully vaccinated 41% of its population. The notice did not say how unvaccinated people will be able to pay utility bills or shop for groceries.

The government says it has enough vaccines in stock, but a new wave of COVID-19 cases propelled by the omicron variant has created long lines at vaccination centers, with many people unable to receive shots.

All public gatherings and meetings will be banned and cinemas and theaters will be closed. Gymnasiums, pools and other sporting venues will also be shut. No public religious festivals or events will be allowed, the notice said. It did not say how long the restrictions would last.

Authorities also halted in-person classes at all schools and indefinitely postponed university examinations.

Wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing in public will be mandatory. Only 20 customers at a time will be allowed in shopping malls and department stores, and all must carry vaccination cards. Employees will be given regular antigen tests to be allowed to work.

Restaurants and hotels can remain open, but employees must wear face masks and other protection. Hotel guests must take antigen tests every three days.

The government is also limiting road traffic, with bans on alternating days for vehicles with odd or even license plates.

The notice said violators will be punished, but did not elaborates. An existing law relating to pandemics says violators can be jailed for a month.

The Health Ministry reported a record 12,338 new cases on Thursday and 11,352 on Wednesday, compared to a few hundred daily cases last month.

Nepal had full lockdowns in 2020 and again from late April to Sept. 1, 2021.

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