Covid live news: France and Italy see record daily cases; Australia’s Omicron outbreak spreads | World news
In Australia, the Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick has lashed out at the New South Wales health response to the virus. The state has been reporting daily record case numbers of Covid-19. The NSW health minister earlier today acknowledged hospital staff were being “run off their feet”.
This is a state that let the virus get out of control and it caused untold damage to lives, livelihoods and to business … and we look at the hundreds of lives that were lost. People of NSW are naturally very concerned.
It comes as three-quarters of Covid patients in Queensland in the past two weeks are revealed to have been under the age of 35.
Israel has ordered 100,000 units of Pfizer Inc’s antiviral Covid-19 pill Paxlovid for people aged 12 and over at risk of severe illness, Reuters reports. It is the first pill developed specifically to treat Covid-19.
An Israeli official confirmed the announcement on Saturday, after Channel 12 TV said Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett agreed the deal in a phone conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. There was no immediate confirmation from the company.
Paxlovid, the first oral and at home treatment for Covid, is nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness, according to Pfizer’s clinical trial.
Pfizer said recent lab data suggested it retained effectiveness against the Omicron variant of the virus. The FDA approved the antiviral pill three days ago.
In South Korea, three members of K-pop sensation BTS test have tested positive for Covid-19 following their return from the US, AFP reports.
The South Korean group gave their first in-person concerts since the start of the pandemic in Los Angeles, which took place from late November to early this month.
They have been on holiday since then, and each of the three infected members returned to South Korea on different dates. They are all fully vaccinated, and none have had any contact with other group members after their return.
Rapper RM and vocalist Jin tested positive for the virus Saturday evening, according to Big Hit Music. The announcement came a day after the agency confirmed that Suga, another member of the septet, was “administering self-care at home” following a positive test.
While RM and Suga are asymptomatic, Jin has mild fever, the agency said.
Among the three, RM and Suga received their positive tests while still in self-quarantine after arriving back home, while Jin was released from quarantine after testing negative and received his positive result later.
Big Hit Music said in a statement the company would put its “highest priority on the health and safety of our artists”.
As Christmas arrives around the world, a surge of Covid infections is keeping many families apart, overwhelming hospitals and scaling back religious ceremonies as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
I’m Caitlin Cassidy here to bring you major Covid developments around the world.
Pope Francis has used his Christmas address to pray for more vaccines to reach the developing world, while in England, Queen Elizabeth II has noted another year of pain after losing her husband, Prince Philip, in April, acknowledging Christmas can be hard for “those who have lost loved ones”.
Cases are continuing to rise in Australia, where New South Wales earlier recorded a record 6,394 cases. The NSW health minister has urged residents to reconsider whether they need to call an ambulance or go to hospital due to staff furloughs, warning everyone in the state was likely to be infected with Omicron.
France recorded a record high of 104,611 Covid-19 infections on Saturday, breaking the 100,000 threshold for the first time since the pandemic began, and Italy reported a third successive record tally of Covid-19 cases on Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, some 5,400 flight cancellations have thrown the Christmas travel schedule into chaos. Omicron has meant airlines could not staff flights, with quarter of cancelled flights in the United States. Let’s dive in.