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Greek lawmakers OK vaccine mandate for aged ::

ATHENS, Greece — Greek lawmakers have accredited laws making vaccination for COVID-19 obligatory for all individuals aged over 60 dwelling within the nation on ache of a month-to-month advantageous, to take care of an an infection surge and the emergence of the omicron variant.

The draft regulation backed Wednesday by the center-right authorities and a center-left opposition social gathering — however rejected by all different opposition events — targets the nation’s age group that’s most weak to demise or intubation from the coronavirus.

Some 17% of Greeks aged over 60 haven’t but been vaccinated. They’ve till Jan. 16 to get their first jabs, or will probably be fined 100 euros ($113) for each month they continue to be unvaccinated.

Events that opposed the measure stated it was too harsh on low-income individuals who don’t wish to be inoculated.



— South Africa’s new instances double in a day following the invention of the brand new variant

— The world faces weeks of uncertainty as extra international locations prohibit journey

— Spain and Portugal are stepping up efforts to vaccinate residents, regardless of having inoculation figures which are the envy of the world

— Singapore’s COVID-19 technique seems to be on observe regardless of the brand new variant

— U.S. strikes to toughen testing requirement for vacationers

Go to for updates all through the day.



DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa hospitalizations from the coronavirus have reached a excessive for this yr with 721 individuals being handled in hospitals.

The final time hospitalizations reached that degree was mid-December of 2020 when the state was coming down from the historic peak of COVID-19 exercise in November.

Hospitalizations peaked at greater than 1,500 sufferers in mid-November 2020. Iowa Division of Public Well being knowledge launched Wednesday signifies 10 youngsters age 11 or youthful are within the hospital. All are unvaccinated.

An extra unvaccinated baby between ages 12 and 17 is hospitalized. The state additionally confirmed 91 extra deaths prior to now week, with some relationship again to mid-September. Iowa officers report a complete of seven,445 COVID-19 deaths.


JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s new instances of COVID-19 practically doubled in a day, authorities reported Wednesday, signaling a dramatic surge within the nation the place scientists detected the omicron variant final week.

New confirmed instances rose to eight,561 Wednesday from 4,373 a day earlier, in response to official statistics.

Scientists in South Africa stated they’re bracing for a speedy enhance in COVID-19 instances following the invention of the brand new omicron variant.

“There’s a risk that we’re going to see an unlimited enhance in variety of instances being recognized in South Africa,” Dr. Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, regional virologist for the World Well being Group, advised The Related Press.

The omicron variant has been detected in 5 of South Africa’s 9 provinces and accounted for 74% of the virus genomes sequenced in November, the nation’s Nationwide Institute for Communicable Ailments introduced Wednesday.


PORTLAND, Maine – The burden of COVID-19 on hospitals in Maine, which has one of many highest vaccination charges within the nation, grew extra acute within the final two weeks, the top of the state’s public well being company stated.

There have been 334 individuals hospitalized within the state on Wednesday, stated Maine Heart for Illness Management and Prevention director Dr. Nirav Shah. That was a brand new document and a rise from 280 two weeks in the past, he stated.

Maine has one of many highest COVID-19 vaccine charges within the U.S. at 73% and had been spared the burden skilled by different states till current months. Shah stated about 60% of the individuals in hospitals will not be vaccinated.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant Wednesday — an individual in California who had been to South Africa — as scientists around the globe raced to ascertain whether or not the brand new, mutant model of the coronavirus is extra harmful than earlier ones.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the USA’ prime infectious illness skilled, made the announcement on the White Home.

“We knew it was only a matter of time earlier than the primary case of omicron could be detected in the USA,” he stated.

The contaminated individual was recognized as a traveler who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22. The individual, who was absolutely vaccinated however had not had a booster shot, examined optimistic on Monday and had delicate signs which are bettering, officers stated.


UNITED NATÎONS — The United Nations chief is accusing international locations which have restricted air journey from some African nations due to South Africa’s discovery of the COVID-19 omicron variant of “journey apartheid.”

Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres urged international locations which have imposed journey restrictions to undertake testing measures as a substitute, saying pre-departure and post-arrival exams have allowed hundreds of individuals to fly in circumstances the place the transmission of COVID-19 is “extremely unlikely.”

What’s unacceptable, he stated, is to have Africa, “one of the crucial weak elements of the world economic system, condemned to a lockout” for revealing a brand new variant that already existed in different elements of the world.

Guterres spoke at a information convention following a gathering Wednesday with the African Union Fee chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who vigorously condemned “the unfair measures” imposed on Africa by a rising variety of primarily Western international locations which he known as “a type of stigmatization” and “injustice.”

The U.N. chief stated he was launching a really sturdy enchantment “to frequent sense: We have now the devices to have protected journey. Let’s use these devices to keep away from this type of, enable me to say, journey apartheid, which I feel is unacceptable.”

Mahamat echoed Guterres saying: “It’s immoral to sentence Africa in that method.”


BEIRUT— Lebanon has declared a nighttime curfew for the unvaccinated forward and through the vacation seasons. Its well being minister on Wednesday known as it one of many measures to stem a current rise in coronavirus infections and a precaution towards the brand new variant.

Lebanon has not recorded any infections with Omicron, however the small nation enduring a extreme monetary disaster is anxious its well being care system gained’t be deal with a brand new peak of infections.

Lebanon’s Well being Minister Firass Abiad stated the COVID committee needs to keep away from imposing a full lockdown and hopes to encourage extra individuals to get vaccinated.


GENEVA — The World Well being Group says journey bans by international locations are having an influence on international cooperation towards the brand new omicron variant by inflicting “challenges” to the sharing of laboratory samples from South Africa that may assist get higher grips on the brand new variant.

The feedback Wednesday got here on the first press briefing by the U.N. well being company because it christened omicron as a “variant of concern” after being dropped at mild by researchers in South Africa final week. Many international locations responded by suspending flights from seven southern Africa international locations.

WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus known as for “tailor-made” intervention by international locations, together with testing vacationers earlier than and after they arrive in a rustic, and suggested towards “blanket journey bans” that “place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”


GENEVA — The pinnacle of the World Well being Group says at the very least 23 international locations have reported instances of the brand new omicron variant of the coronavirus, “and we anticipate that quantity to develop.”

WHO Director-Normal Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated the U.N. well being company “takes this improvement extraordinarily critically, and so ought to each nation, however it shouldn’t shock us. That is what viruses do, and it’s what this virus will proceed to do so long as we enable it to proceed spreading.”

Tedros, citing the early phases of world response to omicron, stated efforts had been ongoing to find out the severity of illness, transmissibility and the effectiveness of exams, remedies, and vaccines within the face of omicron. He stated the delta variant stays by far the commonest


RIO DE JANEIRO — Well being officers on Wednesday confirmed Brazil’s third recognized case of the omicron coronavirus variant as the federal government examined attainable new measures to comprise the virus, reminiscent of suspending some flights and requiring arriving passengers to point out proof of vaccination.

A passenger from Ethiopia examined optimistic for Covid-19 upon touchdown in Sao Paulo on Nov. 27, the state’s well being secretariat stated in a press release. The 29 year-old man is vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer shot and is in good well being, officers stated.

The information got here a day after Brazilian well being officers reported confirmed instances of the omicron variant in two vacationers arriving from South Africa –– the primary such instances in Latin America.


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s authorities has proposed a plan to provide individuals 60 and older a 500-euro ($568) bonus in the event that they get vaccinated towards COVID-19, the finance minister stated Wednesday.

The measure, introduced by Finance Minister Igor Matovic, ought to increase inoculations within the European Union nation with one of many bloc’s lowest vaccination charges. Up to now, solely 46.1% of the nation’s 5.5 million individuals have been absolutely vaccinated.

The present four-party ruling coalition in Slovakia has been break up over the problem. The professional-business Freedom and Solidarity opposed it, saying it was able to assist a 150-euro ($170) bonus solely. However the social gathering didn’t veto it, making the approval attainable.

The invoice will now go to Parliament. It could want some opposition assist to be accredited.

The bonus could be a voucher that may very well be utilized in eating places, cafes, motels or to purchase tickets for sports activities, theater, cinema, exhibitions or live shows. It may very well be additionally used to pay hairdressers or health facilities.


BUENOS AIRES — Worry of the brand new variant additionally triggered a scene harking back to the early days of the pandemic: a cruise liner turned away from port.

Argentina’s Ministry of Well being stated Tuesday it had remoted the German-based cruise ship Hamburg following two confirmed optimistic instances of the brand new coronavirus.

The vessel, whose journey originated in Hamburg, Germany, touched in at Africa’s Cape Verde islands en path to South America and Antarctica.

On Wednesday, it was at sea off Argentina’s Buenos Aires province with 285 passengers and 156 crew aboard. Officers stated they had been ready for exams to find out what variant of the virus had been detected.

Officers initially had allowed some passengers off the ship when it arrived, inflicting a neighborhood controversy.

Plantours stated Wednesday the ship was persevering with its deliberate journey towards South Georgia Island and Antarctica and was not stranded.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Wednesday confirmed its first 5 instances of the brand new omicron coronavirus variant in individuals linked to arrivals from Nigeria, prompting the federal government to tighten the nation’s borders.

The Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company stated Wednesday the instances embody a pair who arrived from Nigeria on Nov. 24 and a pal who drove them house from the airport. The 2 different instances had been ladies who additionally traveled to Nigeria and returned to South Korea on Nov. 23.

Well being employees earlier stated they had been conducting genetic sequencing exams on a toddler of the couple and kin of the person who drove them house to find out whether or not they had been contaminated.

Following the affirmation of the omicron infections, South Korea introduced it can require all passengers arriving from overseas over the following two weeks to quarantine for at the very least 10 days, no matter their nationality or vaccination standing.


PARIS — A spokesperson says France’s authorities will enable flights carrying French and European Union residents again from Southern Africa to renew below very strict circumstances beginning Saturday.

French authorities spokesman Gabriel Attal stated the transfer will raise for “only a few” vacationers a suspension on flights from the area that France imposed final week as a precaution after the identification of the brand new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Journeys for household visits, skilled causes or tourism nonetheless gained’t be allowed, Attal stated.

Solely passengers who’re returning house to France or who work as diplomats or for airways will probably be permitted into the nation, he stated.

Beneath the foundations taking impact Saturday, vacationers departing from 10 international locations, together with South Africa and neighboring nations, Zambia and Mauritius, might want to get examined for the virus each earlier than their flights and after arrival.


MIAMI — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami is making face coverings non-compulsory for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated college students whose mother and father signal opt-out paperwork.

The archdiocese made the announcement Tuesday, citing neighborhood COVID-19 statistics and the recommendation of doctor advisors, the CDC and the Miami-Dade County Division of Well being.

The CDC recommends mask-wearing in public indoor settings, together with faculties, in areas of considerable or excessive neighborhood transmission. As of Wednesday, Florida was the one state within the U.S. the place transmission was low in practically each county, in response to the CDC’s COVID-19 knowledge tracker.

Face masks had been already non-compulsory for absolutely vaccinated college students and lecturers.


WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s prime minister bought a booster shot towards the coronavirus and made an emotional enchantment to residents to get vaccinated as 570 new deaths in someday had been reported from COVID-19.

Mateusz Morawiecki’s enchantment on Wednesday was made to a nation with a vaccination fee of simply 54%. The numbers of these absolutely vaccinated have risen very slowly in current weeks, although fears of the brand new omicron variant have appeared to spur some to lastly get vaccinated.

Poland additionally reported over 29,000 new infections, the very best an infection fee since a virus wave within the spring made central Europe a world sizzling spot.


GENEVA — The World Well being Group says the speed of enhance of coronavirus instances held regular over the past week, although its African, Western Pacific and European areas all reported beneficial properties.

On the identical time, new weekly deaths linked to COVID-19 fell by 10% worldwide.

The U.N. well being company stated in its newest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic that case counts shot up 93% in Africa, although it cautioned about decoding an excessive amount of from that prime determine as a result of it was largely as a result of “batch reporting” of antigen exams by South Africa.

The report, issued Wednesday, referred for the primary time to the brand new omicron variant that WHO named on Friday. WHO stated the variant, which was first detected in South Africa and Botswana, had been reported in a “restricted quantity” of nations in 4 of well being company’s six areas.

As of Sunday, greater than 280 million instances and greater than 5.2 million deaths have been tallied as a result of pandemic, WHO stated.


BERLIN — Germany’s intensive care affiliation is asking for nationally uniform restrictions to be imposed instantly and warning that the variety of COVID-19 sufferers requiring intensive care will hit a brand new excessive earlier than Christmas.

German federal and state leaders are anticipated to determine Thursday on new measures to curb a pointy current rise in coronavirus infections. Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz says he’ll again a proposal to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for everyone subsequent yr.

The DIVI affiliation stated Wednesday that greater than 6,000 sufferers with COVID-19 will want intensive care therapy earlier than Christmas and the all-time excessive from final yr will probably be exceeded. It stated that greater than 2,300 new sufferers had been admitted to ICUs within the final week alone, and that transferring sufferers inside Germany isn’t a long-term answer.

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