(Reuters) – At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.
* Britain’s health secretary said Omicron will become the dominant variant in the capital in the next 48 hours, while Denmark expects it to become dominant this week.
* Norway will further tighten restrictions and speed up vaccination in a bid to limit an expected surge of the Omicron variant.
* England’s Premier League found a record 42 cases of COVID-19 among players and staff at various clubs over the past week.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria will destroy around one million expired vaccines and is taking diplomatic steps to try to reverse travel bans placed on it by some countries that have added the West African state to their COVID-19 “red lists”.
* The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has the world’s lowest vaccination rate at roughly 0.1%, urged people to get inoculated after the Omicron variant was detected there and as cases increase exponentially.
* Major Chinese manufacturing province Zhejiang is fighting its first COVID-19 cluster this year, with hundreds of thousands of citizens in quarantine and virus-hit areas suspending business operations, cutting flights and cancelling events.
* Health authorities in Tianjin have detected mainland China’s first Omicron case, state media reported.
* India reported its lowest tally of active cases in 18 months, but a sharp drop in the use of protective face masks is causing concern after a rise in the number of infections with the Omicron variant.
* The U.S. Supreme Court rejected challenges brought by a group of Christian doctors and nurses and an organisation that promotes vaccine scepticism to New York’s refusal to allow religious exemptions to the state’s mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
* California will impose a statewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces as COVID-19 case rates soar, fuelled by the new Omicron variant.
* COVID-19 cases in Canada may rapidly rise in the coming days due to community spread of Omicron, mirroring the situation in the country’s most populous province of Ontario.
* Novavax filed for emergency use authorisation of its COVID-19 vaccine in the United Arab Emirates, days after Europe’s regulator said it could soon approve it.
* Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection from the Omicron variant is likely to be much lower than against earlier variants, but they may still offer substantial protection against severe disease, a new analysis suggests.
* Global stock markets fell and the dollar gained ground on Monday as investors waited for news from a host of central bank meetings this week and mulled a future without the Fed’s safety net.
* U.S. consumers’ short-term inflation expectations pushed higher in November and expectations for future earnings growth dropped, suggesting they anticipate price increases will outpace wage gains at an even faster rate in the near term.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve, stung by persistently high inflation and encouraged by lower-than-expected unemployment, is set on Wednesday to chart a path of higher interest rates next year.
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