Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Omicron pushed COVID from pandemic to pandemic: EU agency

Hi. Welcome to Al Jazeera’s COVID-19 Live Blog. I’m Ted Regencia and will keep you updated on the latest developments in the pandemic over the next few hours.

The region’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, says the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant across the continent is pushing COVID-19 to be an endemic disease that humanity can live with.

“With increased immunity in the population – and with Omicron, there is a lot more natural immunity happening on top of vaccination – we are rapidly moving towards a scenario that will be close to endemic,” said Marco Cavallari, Head of Vaccines. Strategy at the Amsterdam-based regulator, told reporters on Tuesday.

Other Major Events:

  • United Kingdom Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi told Sky News that the UK government expects the country to be the first in the world to “transition” from pandemic to endemic.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that more than half of people in Europe could catch omicron by March.
  • The WHO has also said that repeat boosters against emerging forms of the virus is not a good strategy, and that more efforts should be made to ensure that poor countries get their first course of vaccine.

Here are the latest updates on Wednesday:


Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam warns of impact of COVID on city

Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam said on Wednesday that the city could soon feel the negative effects of strict quarantine restrictions on air crew, with an expected decline in cargo traffic and freight supply flows.

In a speech before the “only patriotic” legislative council, Lam said Hong Kong already had the strictest measures against imported COVID-19 infections and that it was difficult to tighten them further.

People queue outside a temporary community testing center providing free COVID-19 testing services in the Wong Tai Sin area of ​​Hong Kong [Bertha Wang/AFP]

S Korean officials test positive for COVID-19 after attending US trade show

Reuters news agency is reporting on Wednesday that more than 30 executives from major South Korean companies that attended the huge CES tech trade show in Las Vegas last week tested positive for COVID-19 while in the US .

About 20 executives from Samsung Electronics and about six from SK Group, parent of energy firm SK Innovation and chipmaker SK Hynix, were among those who tested positive for the virus after attending CES, sources said.

Hyundai Heavy Industries also said that six of its employees who attended tested positive were quarantined, and some have since been released.


South Korea’s daily infections 4,000. at over

South Korea’s health authority said on Wednesday that its COVID-19 cases returned above 4,000 for the first time in six days, possibly due to the Omicron variant.

At least 4,388 new cases were reported, including 4,007 local infections, raising the total caseload to 674,868, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

According to the Yonhap news agency, the government will assess the risk level of the pandemic later on Wednesday and decide on possible amendments to existing social distancing rules.


China’s Tianjin launches new round of COVID testing for 14 million residents

At least 14 million residents of the Chinese city of Tianjin have started a new round of COVID-19 testing to try to stop the spread of omicrons.

According to the country’s coronavirus monitor, Tianjin reported 33 domestically transmitted coronavirus infections with confirmed symptoms on Tuesday, up from 10 a day earlier.

The city on Wednesday ordered a half-day leave for employees at companies and other institutions and required them to stay at home to comply with the city’s second round of testing, news agency Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, four new cases of the virus have also been reported in the city of Shenzhen, China. As of Monday, the city had completed more than 22 million tests in four days as the city also tries to contain the spread of COVID.


German trade body warns of massive supply chain disruption at Omicron

In Germany, the country’s trade union has warned of significant supply chain disruptions due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron version of the coronavirus, but said a long-term collapse of the supply chain was unlikely.

“There is no risk of collapse, but large-scale disruption of the supply chain – at least temporarily,” BGA trade association president Dirk Jandura was quoted as saying by the Funke newspaper group on Wednesday.

German industry has been hit by supply shortfalls of microchips and other components, while rising COVID-19 cases are tarnishing the outlook for retailers beginning in 2022.


Indonesia rolls out booster shot for free

Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Wednesday that the country would release its COVID booster shots for free, according to the Jakarta Post.

The government initially planned to ask most of Indonesia’s 270 million residents to pay out of their own pocket for the booster.

There are concerns that the rollout could exacerbate vaccine disparity across the country. Only 117 million Indonesians, out of a population of more than 270 million, have been fully vaccinated since the campaign began on January 13 last year.


Read all the updates from January 11 here.

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