France logged a record high of 104,611 COVID-19 infections on Saturday, breaking the 100,000 threshold for the first time since the pandemic began
French health authorities said the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care went up by 28 to 3,282.
The latest figures come ahead of a government video-conference meeting on Monday. President Emmanuel Macron and key members of his administration will discuss new pandemic safety measures amid growing concerns about the effect of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
Here’s a look at the latest coronavirus-related news in other parts of the world
In Germany, reports of domestic violence cases, mostly against women, rose considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, the victim support group Weisser Ring reported.
Volunteers from the non-profit organization handled 17,000 cases in 2020, 20% of which related to domestic violence. This was a 10% increase from the year before and 20% more than 2018.
Weisser Ring Federal Chairman Joerg Ziercke confirmed that “we will probably reach the 2020 level again this year” for domestic violence in Germany. Of these reports in 2020, “twenty-six per cent are sexual offences,” he added.
Police statistics confirm these figures too, with a 15% increase to 150,000 domestic violence crimes recorded nationally in 2020.
Weisser Ring, which means White Ring in English, runs a helpline that provides counseling for victims of all crimes throughout the central European country.
The weeks after the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns saw the largest amount of calls and online requests for help, said Ziercke.
Numbers of calls grew from 4,000 in 2019 to 22,000 in 2020, with a similar number being expected for 2021. Weisser Ring carried out 3,350 online consultations in 2020, double that of 2019.
About 80% of the domestic violence victims were women, 5% more than in 2020, Ziercke added, saying that being stuck at home had increased the likelihood of domestic violence.
German police shut down a concert in the northern city of Hamburg that had 800 attendees that were not keeping social distancing rules, authorities said.
There were isolated incidents during the police operation including damage to the venue after they ordered event organizers to send people home.
With the omicron variant now having spread across all German states, new restrictions are expected to be announced after the festive season.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 22,214 new coronavirus cases early on Christmas Day, bringing total cases throughout the pandemic up to nearly 7 million. The RKI also recorded 157 new deaths.
Britain saw thousands of people across the country queuing up on Christmas Day to receive “jingle jabs” as omicron infections surged.
Several vaccination sites were open on Saturday to administer coronavirus vaccines, following a push from the government to vaccinate all adults with booster shots by the end of the year.
Portugal’s General Directorate of Health announced Saturday that the omicron variant has become dominant in the country. Over 12,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Friday.
The Iberian nation has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, but has recently implemented new restrictions, such as mandatory indoor mask wearing.
India will begin its COVID-19 vaccine roll out for those aged 15-18 from January 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a late night address to the nation on Saturday.
Booster shots will be administered to healthcare and frontline workers from January 10, Modi said, as cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant gained foothold across the country.
“Omicron is a matter of discussion right now,” Modi said.
“After looking at global developments and examining the last 11 months of our Covid-19 vaccination drive, our scientists have taken key decisions today,” he said during his announcement. It is time to be “careful and cautious”, he added.
People above the age of 60 and citizens with comorbidities can also receive the “precaution dose.”
Three members of the South Korean K-pop sensation BTS have tested positive for coronavirus after returning from abroad, their management agency said on Saturday.
Rapper RM and vocalists Jin were diagnosed with the virus on Saturday evening, Big Hit Music said. The agency has announced earlier that another member of the boy band, Suga, had tested positive for the virus on Friday.
The superstar group had returned from the US, after holding their first in-person concerts since the start of the pandemic.
China on Saturday reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases in four months, the majority of them in the northwestern city of Xi’an.
With the Far Eastern superpower set to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing this coming February, Chinese authorities imposed a strict lockdown on 13 million people in Xi’an last Thursday.
The 140 new infections, 87 which were locally transmitted, were reported on Christmas Eve. Most of these were in Xi’an, although cases have been kept to a minimum thanks to a strict zero-Covid strategy that quickly zones in on outbreaks.
US flights constituted the bulk of the more than 4,500 flights cancelled globally this Christmas weekend. United and Delta Airlines both cited a staff crunch due to rising COVID-19 infections.
Kenya will offer COVID-19 booster shots to residents who got fully vaccinated six months earlier, the health ministry said a day after it recorded its highest ever case numbers.
The omicron variant on Friday accounted for about a third of theEast African country’s coronavirus cases in a country which has 14% of its adults inoculated.
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s top press aide Garba Shehu has tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation.
“I can only confirm that am infected by COVID-19 and on treatment in isolation,” said Shehu on Saturday.
According to several local reports some of Buhari’s aides and key officials have been infected, including Information Minister Lai Mohammed. There was yet to be a comment from Mohammed on the reports.
Israel has placed an order for 100,000 doses of Pfizer’s anti-viral COVID-19 oral drug. Paxlovid for people aged 12 and above, vulnerable to severe illness, an Israeli official said on Saturday.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett struck the deal in a telephonic conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla,Channel 12 TV reported. There was no immediate response from the pharmaceutical giant.
dvv, mvb, jc/rs,wd (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)