Global Review – 5th January

Fresh global tsunami of COVID-19 cases

Cases of COVID-19 are surging around the world with a list of nations, including the US, France and the UK recording a record number of infections.

US: The US registered a record of 1,080,211 cases in a day. The number doubled in four days and quadrupled in a week. President Biden has said there was no excuse for Americans to be unvaccinated in what was now “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

France: French Health Minister Olivier Véran told reporters that there were almost 300,000 infections in 24 hours.

UK: COVID infections in the United Kingdom, now largely fueled by the Omicron variant, skyrocketed to 218,724 in a single day – the absolute peak since the beginning of the pandemic and for the first time over 200,000. Several London newspapers lead with the prime minister’s hope that the country can “ride out” the Omicron wave without bringing in more restrictions. Despite Boris Johnson’s optimism, the Sun notes that the large numbers isolating are hitting transport and schools.

Italy: In Italy, 170,844 new infections from COVID were clocked in the last 24 hours, again the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. The Italian government meets today to decide whether to introduce further measures, including compulsory vaccination for workers.

Australia: Australia has reported a record number of 47,738 new cases of COVID-19, mostly the Omicron variant. Despite the blanket traces and the closure of the borders, the country had just emerged from a Delta wave that had reduced the government’s ambition to reach zero-cases of coronavirus.

Sweden: A record number of COVID cases have also been reported in Sweden – 11,507 – where even the king and queen have tested positive, despite being fully vaccinated.

India: New Delhi will impose a curfew over the weekend to try to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. Half of office employees would work from home, including all government officials, except those engaged in essential services. Delhi has reported about 11,000 positive cases in the past days.

New COVID variant with 46 mutations

While the world is grappling with the highly infectious “variant of concern” Omicron, scientists in France have identified a new COVID variant which has 46 mutations. Named IHU, the new B.1.640.2 variant has so far infected 12 people living in southeastern France. The first case has been linked to a person with a travel history to Cameroon, said the authors in a research paper. In the analysis, the authors found “46 mutations” that have not been spotted in other countries, nor has it been labelled a variant under investigation by the WHO.

US Court to decide Prince Andrew’s case “soon”

A US judge will decide “soon” whether a civil sex assault case against Prince Andrew will be dismissed. At a virtual hearing in Manhattan on Tuesday, Judge Lewis A Kaplan said he appreciated the “arguments and the passion” over the 2009 agreement his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, made with Jeffrey Epstein. He said he would give a decision on the case “pretty soon” but declined to say exactly when. Ms Giuffre is suing the prince claiming he sexually assaulted her, when she was 17 and a minor in some US states. The duke denies the allegations.

Trump cancels tomorrow’s press conference

Former US President Donald Trump has cancelled a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, the day of the first anniversary of the assault on the American Congress, alleging that the commission of inquiry investigating those incidents was biased and dishonest, whi attacking the Democrats of fake news. “I will talk about many important topics in my meeting on Saturday, January 15 in Arizona,” says the former president adding, “It is now clear to everyone that the media will not report the fact that Nancy Pelosi denied the request for the National Guard or the army on Capitol Hill.”

Italians start Presidential election on January 24

The President of the Italian Chamber Roberto Fico has convened Parliament in joint session forMonday, January 24, at 3pm, to elect the President of the Republic. Sergio Mattarella’s seven-year mandate expires on February 3. Prime Minister Mario Draghi is widely expected to take over despite the risk of destabilising the country’s post-pandemic recovery. It was Mattarella who brought in Draghi to lead a national unity government in February 2021 when the previous coalition collapsed – and he may now step into his shoes.

Kazakhstan government resigns amid protests

The Kazakhstan government has announced its resignation amid mass protests engulfing the country over gas price hikes. President Tokayev accepted the resignation of Askar Mamin’s government on Wednesday. Earlier, Tokayev imposed a state of emergency in Almaty and an oil-rich western region after unprecedented protests that began over a regional energy price hike engulfed other parts of the vast ex-Soviet country. Almaty, Kazakhstan’s financial capital, was in chaos from late on Tuesday as police fired tear gas and stun grenades to quell unrest that began in the west of the country over a spike in local prices for Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Tennis: Australians angry as Djokovic to play in Australian Open

Australians have reacted angrily to news that tennis player Novak Djokovic will play in the Australian Open, after he was exempted from vaccination rules. Djokovic will return to defend his Australian Open title after revealing he had secured a medical exemption for the tournament and he was on his way to Melbourne. He had refused to divulge his vaccination status and had previously expressed doubt about taking anti-COVID vaccines. Many have previously accused the government of allowing the rich and famous to do as they please while ordinary people remain separated from sick and dying loved ones.

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