Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls to step down after attending a party during the UK's strict lockdown. 
  • Hungary plans to make a fourth vaccine shot available to those who ask for it. 
  • South Korea will begin treating patients with Pfizer's antiviral pills on Friday, the first Asian country to do so. 


Tens of thousands of French teachers walked off the job over what they say is the government's failure to adopt a coherent policy for schools to manage the pandemic, while the White House said US schools should receive the first additional rapid tests being made available by the federal government in about two weeks.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

Europe

Spain will cap prices for rapid tests and open up its booster shot programme to everyone over the age of 18.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's premiership was in the balance as he faced calls from within his Conservative Party to resign after he admitted attending a party at his official residence during a lockdown.

Hungary, which expects a substantial further increase in infections over the coming weeks, is to make a fourth shot available to people who ask for it, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said.

Americas

Mexico on Wednesday posted a record 44 187 new confirmed cases, bringing its total number of infections to 4 214 253.

Canada will allow unvaccinated Canadian truckers to cross in from the United States, reversing a decision requiring all truckers to be inoculated against the coronavirus, Canada's border agency said on Wednesday.

Asia-Pacific

New infections in Indian cities could peak next week after rising rapidly, experts said, as the country reported the highest number of daily cases since late May and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had adequate stocks of vaccines across states.

Tokyo recorded a new four-month high in infections, and experts forecast the spread of the Omicron variant would cause the daily count to triple by month's end.

READ | US Omicron cases may fall as fast as they rose — new models suggest daily infections may have hit max

Tianjin in northern China reported 41 domestically transmitted cases, while the northeastern city of Dalian reported that an individual arriving from Tianjin had also contracted the Omicron variant.

South Korea will begin treating patients with Pfizer's antiviral pills on Friday, the first Asian country to do so.

After nearly two years of border closures to protect North Korea against the pandemic, some humanitarian aid is trickling into the country.

Africa and Middle East 

Africa's top public health body said it was in talks with Pfizer about securing supplies of its antiviral Covid-19 pills for the continent.

A "shocking" surge in cases across the World Health Organisation's Eastern Mediterranean region is probably due to the Omicron variant, a WHO official said, warning that some countries in the group still have very low vaccination rates.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

AstraZeneca said preliminary data from a trial showed its Covid-19 shot, Vaxzevria, generated an increase in antibodies against the Omicron and other variants when given as a third booster dose.

Polish scientists have found a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19, a discovery they hope could help doctors identify people who are most at risk from the disease.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Jittery global financial markets saw signs of stabilisation, with major equity bourses and bond yields holding their ground and the dollar wilting after the highest US inflation reading in nearly 40 years.

The global life insurance industry was hit with reported claims due to Covid-19 of $5.5 billion in the first nine months of 2021 versus $3.5 billion for the whole of 2020, according to insurance broker Howden.


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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