• 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: Countries report record new confirmed COVID-19 cases; CDC recommends Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for 12 to 15-year-olds; Cuba, Bulgaria tighten travel restrictions.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 297.8 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.46 million. More than 9.28 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

More cities in central China have imposed new restrictions as new coronavirus infections in Henan province rose sharply, with authorities taking urgent action to contain clusters ahead of the Winter Olympics and Lunar New Year peak travel season.

Thailand has raised its COVID-19 alert level as a result of rising cases, driven by the Omicron variant.

The Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are all experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases - although without a corresponding rise in hospitalizations. New COVID-19 cases across India are up nearly four-fold since the start of 2022.

Panama has moved to require all public officials to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing for the virus, its health minister said yesterday.

Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned against complacency against the Omicron COVID-19 variant, warning that the sheer number of cases could strain hospitals, despite lower signs of severity.

Bulgaria has tightened travel restrictions, with almost all travellers from the European Union now required to have a negative PCR test prior to entry alongside a valid COVID certificate.

Cuba has also tightened its border controls in response to rising cases. Visitors will now be required to show both a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination. Previously, only vaccination cards were required for most travellers.

A new COVID-19 variant in France is being monitored by the WHO, but is not currently of concern, according to the New York Times. The B.1.640.2 variant was first identified in October, but has not spread widely.

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
COVID-19

How is the World Economic Forum helping to identify new technologies to fight COVID-19?

As part of work identifying promising technology use cases to combat COVID, The Boston Consulting Group recently used contextual AI to analyze more than 150 million English language media articles from 30 countries published between December 2019 to May 2020.

The result is a compendium of hundreds of technology use cases. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.

To see a full list of 200+ exciting technology use cases during COVID – please follow this link.

2. Record confirmed COVID-19 cases reported around the world

Countries around the world are reporting record confirmed COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant sweeps across the globe.

New COVID-19 cases have hit a new high in Australia, with 72,392 fresh infections, with the count still incomplete. The previous high of 64,774 was set the day before.

France has reported a record of more than 332,000 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. The number of deaths as a result of the virus also rose. The number of COVID patients in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) stood at 3,695 and there were over 20,000 COVID patients in hospital in total, the highest number since late May.

In Italy, a daily record 189,109 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday. It comes as the country made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people from the age of 50.

The UK has also reported a record COVID-19 prevalence. In the last week of 2021, one-in-15 people in England were infected with the virus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said cases were increasing at the fastest rate ever.

And in the United States, the rolling seven-day average number of new COVID-19 cases hit 540,000 on Tuesday - a new high for the eighth consecutive day.

3. CDC recommends Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for 12 to 15-year-olds

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced yesterday that it had expanded the eligibility of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to those aged 12 to 15 years.

The move came after a panel of outside experts advising the CDC voted earlier to recommend booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine be made available for ages 12 to 15.

The panel also said the CDC should strengthen its recommendation for boosters for ages 16 and 17. The agency had previously made the shots available to those teenagers, but had stopped short of suggesting that all of them should receive the additional jab.

The CDC said in a statement it now recommended that adolescents age 12 to 17 years old should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination series.