Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– 800,000 Americans dead –
The United States passes the grim landmark of 800,000 dead — the highest toll in the world — and more than the entire population of several states, including Alaska and North Dakota.
– Omicron ‘dominant’ by January –
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warns the Omicron variant could become dominant in Europe by mid-January, but says the 27-nation bloc has ample vaccines to fight the virus.
– Push to jab children –
Several European nations, including Germany, Spain and Greece, start vaccinating children aged five to 11 in an effort to contain a raging pandemic and keep schools open.
– Germany’s violent anti-vaxxers –
Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany will “defend itself” against a violent minority of anti-vaccine militants who have threatened public officials.
– Johnson rebellion –
Nearly 100 MPs from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party break ranks and vote against new virus restrictions.
– Italy tightens border –
Italy will tighten restrictions for arrivals from the rest of the EU from Thursday, requiring tests for everyone and a five-day quarantine for the unvaccinated.
– J&J booster OK –
The European Medicines Agency says the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be used as a booster shot two months after the first dose was administered, or after receiving other mRNA shots.
– Omicron scuppers Bethlehem Christmas –
The variant sparks a wave of Christmas hotel cancellations in the Palestinian town where Jesus was born, scuppering hopes of a return of Christian pilgrims to the West Bank.
– Rwanda shuts clubs –
Rwanda shuts nightclubs and extends quarantines for international arrivals as it detects its first six cases of the Omicron variant.
– Kenya’s first cases –
Kenya also reports three cases of the variant, the first detected there.
– Over 5.3 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,320,431 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP Wednesday at 1100 GMT.
The US had the highest number of deaths with 800,473, followed by Brazil with 616,970, India with 476,135 and Mexico with 296,984.
The countries with the biggest increases in death rates over the last week are Switzerland (up 78 percent), Peru and Spain (up 65 percent) and Ireland (up 47 percent).
Taking into account excess linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.