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World hits record Covid cases in a week as WHO warns over Omicron

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The highly transmissible variant has seen case records in multiple countries and registered infections were up 37 percent globally from December 22-28 compared to the previous seven-day period, according to the AFP tally based on national databases.The surge, currently worst in Europe, has forced governments to walk a tightrope between re-imposing restrictions designed to stop hospitals becoming overwhelmed and the need to keep economies and societies open two years after the virus first emerged in late 2019."The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high," the UN health agency said overnight.More than 5.4 million people around the world have died from Covid-19, but the number of deaths declined to an average of 6,450 a day in the last week, the AFP tally said, the lowest since late October 2020.The WHO warned further data was needed to understand Omicron's severity.More than 3.5 million cases have been recorded in Europe in the last seven days, with Britain, France, Greece and Portugal all reporting record daily case numbers."I can imagine the distress for these employees and entrepreneurs," Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told France Inter radio.Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has forced sports competitions behind closed doors and also shut nightclubs, limiting private gatherings to 10 vaccinated people — or two households where any unvaccinated people are present.On Wednesday, Vietnam, an export-reliant economy long seen as a success story in Asia, reported economic growth for 2021 at a 30-year low of just 2.58 percent, as the pandemic continues to take a toll.Covid spikes caused severe travel disruptions over the holidays, with thousands of flights cancelled worldwide and Finland on Tuesday saying it would bar unvaccinated foreign travellers from entering.England's top football league is grappling with record cases, while China has imposed strict lockdowns on millions of people to control the spread of the Delta variant ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control has halved the isolation period for asymptomatic cases to try and limit disruptions and mass labour shortages, despite the country battling its own surge fuelled by Omicron."So that my kids can be normal again and see their friends and be out and be social."…



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