• 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: COVAX deliver one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses; Beijing introduces new entry rules; US CDC adjusts mask-wearing guidance.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 328.1 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.53 million. More than 9.65 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The French parliament has given final approval to the government's latest COVID-19 measures, including a vaccine pass.

Nepal has begun giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. It comes as daily confirmed cases jumped by 4,961 on Sunday - the biggest 24-hour increase in more than six months.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Irish hospitals has fallen week-on-week for the first time since the Omicron variant drove cases to record highs.

Australia's daily COVID-19 cases fell below 100,000 on Sunday for the first time in five days.

Thailand has reported its first death from the Omicron COVID-19 variant, a health official announced yesterday.

England has extended its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme to include 16- and 17-year-olds.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, recommending using 'the most protective mask you can' while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.

Iran has reported its first three deaths from the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Philippine health ministry confirmed the local spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant around Manila on Saturday, as infections hit a record high for a third straight day.

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

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The Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is one of the largest multi-stakeholder collaborations in the social innovation sector.

The Alliance has 100 members – corporations, investors, philanthropists, governments, researchers, media, and industry actors – who work together to build an engaged ecosystem of key public and private sector leaders in support of a social innovation movement that transforms society to be more just, sustainable and equitable.

Launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis by the Schwab Foundation together with Ashoka, Catalyst2030, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business in April 2020.

In the post-pandemic context, the Alliance community will strengthen the foundations of a highly dynamic and resilient innovation ecosystem in support of social entrepreneurs. In that pursuit, the Alliance will continue to mobilise a trusted community of leaders together with core partners - Bayer Foundation, Motsepe Foundation, Porticus, Deloitte, Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce, that acts and learns together so that social entrepreneurs can flourish.

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2. COVAX shares one billionth COVID-19 vaccine dose

COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing facility - has delivered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, one of the organizations which manages it said on Saturday.

Supplies to poorer nations have long been limited because of lack of vaccines, as wealthier states secured most of the doses initially available from December 2020.

But in the last quarter shipments have exponentially increased, allowing COVAX to reach the milestone of 1 billion doses shipped to 144 countries, said Gavi, which co-leads the programme alongside the World Health Organization (WHO).

Despite the recent surge in deliveries, vaccine inequity remains high. The latest WHO data shows 67% of the population in richer nations have been fully vaccinated, compared with only 5% in poorer nations. Over 40% of the world's population has not yet received a first dose.

Gavi is seeking more funds to reach the WHO's goal of vaccinating 70% of the population in poorer nations by July.

3. Beijing tightens entry rules after Omicron case

Beijing will require travellers to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the Chinese capital, state media announced on Sunday, a day after the city reported its first Omicron case and as it readies to stage the Winter Olympics next month.

On Saturday, the city reported the first local infection of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, involving a person who had visited multiple malls and restaurants in the previous 14 days. The person had not left the city since the start of this year

The new rule, effective from 22 January to end-March, is aimed to help with early detection of Omicron, which is surging globally, and the control of epidemic risks, Beijing Daily, a government newspaper, said on its official social media account.

Already, the capital city requires inbound travellers to take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure for the city and have a green code on the city's health tracking app.