Covid-19 wrap: Omicron behind nearly all Italy's infections, more Nigerians take up vaccine jabs

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Keeping you up to date on the latest novel coronavirus (Covid-19) news from around the world.

FOLLOW LIVE | Covid-19 in SA: Cases rise by 4 100 as death toll goes up by 34

Covid-19 kills at least 5 635 702 people globally

The coronavirus has killed at least 5 635 702 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Friday.

The US has recorded the most Covid deaths with 878 467, followed by Brazil with 625 085, India on 492 327 and Russia 329 443.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

 - AFP

EU chief slammed

The EU's own watchdog blasts European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for keeping secret text messages with Pfizer's CEO about purchasing vaccine doses, saying it "constituted maladministration".

 - AFP

More Nigerians take up Covid-19 shots after expired doses destroyed

ABUJA – Abubakar Yusuf, an informal Nigerian trader, said he was scared to get a Covid-19 shot after hearing the country had stocks of expired vaccines. That changed, however, when health authorities destroyed more than a million expired doses last month.

Nigeria's vaccine rollout has slowly gained pace since then as public confidence increases and the government has assured citizens they will not receive expired doses.

Nigerians like Yusuf were rattled by reports of vaccines with looming expiry dates and worried about whether the shots they would get were safe and effective, complicating the government's efforts to get as many shots into arms as possible.

Nigeria, like other African countries, initially struggled to get doses as rich nations snapped up limited supplies. Deliveries later picked up, but some shots donated by individual countries or via the global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX arrived with a very short shelf life, leading them to expire.

Nigeria has said it will no longer accept vaccines close to expiry.


Omicron behind nearly all infections in Italy, health body says

MILAN – The highly contagious Omicron coronavirus now accounts for nearly all new infections in Italy, the National Health Institute (ISS) said on Friday, accounting for almost 96% of cases in a flash 17 January survey.

The previous survey from 3 January showed Omicron was responsible for 81% of cases.

"In Italy on January 17, the Omicron variant was predominant, with an estimated prevalence of 95.8%, while Delta was at 4.2% of the sample tested," the Institute said in a statement.

The analysis is based on 2 486 swabs tested in 124 laboratories and collected in all 21 Italian regions and autonomous provinces, it said.

Worldwide, according to this week's World Health Organisation (WHO) report, the Omicron variant accounts for 89.1% of cases, while Delta accounts for 10.7%.


Australia drugs regulator approves Covid-19 boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds

SYDNEY – Australia's drug regulator on Friday approved the use of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for 16- and 17-year-olds as authorities urge people to get their third doses soon to mitigate the threat from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said it had approved Pfizer's vaccine for use as a booster in youths aged 16-17, joining the United States, Israel and Britain.

Australia is among the most heavily vaccinated countries against Covid-19 with more than 93% of its adult population double-dosed and some 35% of people above 18 having received a booster dose, according to official data. It began administering vaccines to children aged 5-11 from early this month.

TGA said the country's vaccination advisory group will soon give more information on when the 16-17 age group will be eligible to receive their booster doses.


Philippines to re-open to vaccinated foreign tourists

Manila – The Philippines will re-open to fully vaccinated tourists from most countries on 10 February and lift quarantine requirements, officials said on Friday, nearly two years after closing its borders to contain the coronavirus.

Tourism operators across the archipelago nation famed for its beaches and dive spots have been devastated by a plunge in international visitors and restrictions on domestic travel.

Their misery was worsened by a super typhoon that smashed into the country in December, wiping out resorts, restaurants and bars in popular tourist destinations.

"The tourism industry can now recover and it can contribute big to jobs, livelihoods and the country's economic growth," presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles told a briefing.

A previous plan to welcome back tourists from 1 December was suspended after the emergence of the hyper-contagious Omicron variant that has since ripped through the Philippines.

 - AFP

Russia reports record Covid-19 cases for eighth day running

MOSCOW – Russia's daily Covid-19 cases surged to 98 040 on Friday, a new record high for the eighth consecutive day as the Omicron variant continued to spread, the government's coronavirus task force said.

The number of new infections was a significant jump from the 88 816 reported on Thursday. Officials also said that 673 people had died in the last 24 hours.


Ukraine reports record daily high of 34 408 new coronavirus infections

KYIV – Ukraine saw a record daily high of 34 408 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, as the figure exceeded the previous high of 32 393 a day earlier.

Ministry data showed 144 new related deaths.

Ukraine's tally of infections in the pandemic stands at 3.98 million, with 99 882 deaths.


Brazil reports 228 954 new cases of coronavirus, 672 deaths

Brazil reported 228 954 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 672 Covid-19 deaths, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The South American country has now registered 24 764 838 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 625 085 according to ministry data.


Mexico posts 495 more Covid-19 deaths, 49 150 new infections

MEXICO CITY – Mexico's health ministry on Thursday reported 495 more fatalities from Covid-19 and 49 150 new infections, bringing the overall death toll to 304 803 and the number of cases to 4 828 446.


South Korea reports 16 096 new Covid-19 cases, new daily record - KDCA

SEOUL – South Korea reported 16 096 new coronavirus cases for Thursday, another daily record after posting 14 518 a day before, amid the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Friday.


Beijing 2022 says 12 new Covid-19 cases found among Games-related personnel on 27 January

BEIJING – Twelve new cases of Covid-19 were detected among Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games-related personnel on 27 January, organisers said on Friday.

Of the 12 cases, 10 were detected amongst new arrivals at the airport. The others were found amongst those already in the organisers' closed loop Covid-19 management bubble.

The Beijing Winter Olympics begin on Friday, 4 February.


If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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