Singapore has suspended quarantine-free travel and Australia renewed its vaccine push on Wednesday, just days before Christmas, forcing authorities to impose new bans and speed up booster shots.
Governments have tightened restrictions on global social mobility and made urgent requests for citizens to be vaccinated as the Omicron virus has emerged as an influential strain, advancing reopening plans that many hoped would be the beginning of the next epoch in 2022.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore will suspend all new ticket sales for flights and buses under its quarantine-free travel program in city-states from December 23 to January 20, the government said Wednesday, citing rapid risks. Omicron is spreading.
The Ministry of Health in Singapore said in a statement that “our border systems will help us strengthen our defenses, including our time to study and understand the Omicron variant and increase our healthcare capacity, and to vaccinate and encourage more people.”
U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday pledged half a billion free rapid Covid-19 tests and warned a quarter of American adults who are unvaccinated that their choices could spell “the difference between life and death.”
In response to the increase in lawsuits, countries are also seeking to reduce the time between second shot shots and boosters. However, beware of public lockdown fatigue, there is reluctance to go back to the strict sanctions imposed during the Delta variant spread earlier this year.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced new vaccine funds for clinics and pharmacies. He urged the states in the country to re-open hundreds of vaccination centers, speeding up a booster rollout, which was discontinued when the double-dose rate among adults was at its peak of 80%.
The country’s federal and state leaders held an emergency meeting of the national cabinet on Wednesday to discuss the growing case, which is drastically expanding the benefits of the test.
Australia on Wednesday reported more than 5,000 infections daily for the first time during the epidemic, mostly in the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria.
Despite the increase in Omicron, Morrison repeatedly insisted on Wednesday that lockdowns https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-rules-out-lockdowns-despite-omicron-surge-2021-12-21 would not be reversed. Restricting the spread of that virus comes down to personal responsibility.
There were also protests against the new lockdown in South Korea, where authorities announced restrictions on assembly and operating hours for restaurants, cafes and bars.
Although the polls show widespread support for South Korea’s new sanctions, some of them are still tough, with many small businesses complaining that the restrictions make them overstaffed and over-stock, preparing for the holiday season under relaxed rules.
Small business and restaurant associations protested the decision and issued a statement calling for compensation, with one group vowing to hold a protest on Wednesday.
Hans Cluj, the European head of the World Health Organization, warned on Tuesday of a “storm” that would bring Omicron, “pushing the already expanded healthcare system to the brink of further collapse.”
Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among the countries that have recently reinstated partial or complete lockdowns or other social distance measures.
Portugal has ordered the closure of nightclubs and bars and asked them to work from home for at least two weeks from Saturday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not introduce a new COVID-19 ban in England before Christmas, but the situation was tense and the government may have to act later.
Governments have stepped up vaccination and treatment efforts with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve COVID-19 treatment pills from Pfizer Inc. and Mark, according to Bloomberg News.
Israel will offer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to people over the age of 60.
Policymakers are scrambling to deal with the economic impact of the new outbreak, and Britain has announced an additional বিল 1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) in aid for the most hit businesses by Omicron.
With little known about the severity of the Omicron infection, businesses are also concerned about the many cancellations that could affect big-ticket events in the new year.
Amazon Inc., Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms Inc., Twitter Inc. and Pinterest Inc. will skip the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-will-not-attend-ces-person-over-covid Omicron Concerns about -19-concerns-2021-12-21 in Las Vegas next month.
The North American National Hockey League will not send its players to compete in the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics due to concerns about Covid-19, ESPN reported on Tuesday.
This will affect not only the league players of the US and Canadian ice hockey teams, but also the Olympic squads of Sweden, Finland and Germany.
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