• This daily news round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: World reacts to new Omicron COVID-19 variant; Philippines launches new vaccination drive; Singapore and Malaysia reopen land border.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 261.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.19 million. More than 7.9 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Singapore and Malaysia have reopened one of the world's busiest land borders, allowing vaccinated travellers to cross. It's been closed for nearly two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country will move to a system of living with COVID-19 this week despite the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Member states of the World Health Organization have reached a tentative consensus to negotiate a future agreement on preventing pandemics, diplomats said on Sunday.

New COVID-19 cases in northern China have seen two cities suspend public transport and tighten control over residents' movements.

The World Trade Organization became the first major diplomatic casualty of the Omicron variant on Friday when it postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years due to the deteriorating health situation.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries.
Image: Our World in Data

2. World reacts to new Omicron COVID-19 variant

The World Health Organization is working to understand more about the Omicron COVID-19 variant, it announced on Sunday.

The WHO said it's not yet clear if the new variant is more transmissible compared to other variants, or if it caused more severe disease. However, the organization did reiterate initial evidence that suggests there might be a higher risk of reinfection from Omicron.

The WHO also said it was working with experts to understand the potential impact of the new Omicron variant on existing countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines. However, it said there's currently no evidence the variant causes different symptoms.

The US's top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told President Joe Biden on Sunday that it will take around two weeks to have definitive information on the new variant.

Around the world countries, including the United States, have also tightened travel restrictions in response to Omicron, with Japan and Israel both banning entry for all foreign nationals. Australia is also reviewing plans to reopen its borders to skilled migrants and students from 1 December.

The Omicron variant has been confirmed in numerous countries around the world, with Switzerland detecting its first suspected case late on Sunday, adding to a list that includes the UK, Australia, Canada, France and Germany. The Netherlands announced yesterday that 13 cases on the Omicron variant had been found among passengers on two flights from South Africa on Friday, while Botswana has announced 15 more cases, in addition to the four confirmed cases it reported on Friday.

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.

3. Philippines launches campaign to vaccine 9 million people in 3 days

The Philippines has launched an ambitious drive to vaccinate nine million people against COVID-19 over three days, deploying security forces and using tens of thousands of volunteers to help administer the programme.

Three million vaccinations per day is nearly four times the average of 829,000 daily shots in November. An official said news of the Omicron variant made the campaign even more vital.

"It is better to be prepared for the effects of Omicron," Carlito Galvez, the country's vaccination chief, told CNN Philippines on Monday.

About 35.6 million people have been fully vaccinated, or a third of its 110 million population. The country aims to immunise 54 million people by the end of 2021 and 77 million by next March.