It’s been an eventful start to 2022 as the world enters the third year of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Public health specialist and Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Emergencies Programme said Dr Mike Ryan said the focus in 2022 would be on the “acute phase of the pandemic”.
“[On the] acute phase of the pandemic, the pandemic that’s been associated with the tragedy of deaths and hospitalizations – that can end in 2022.”
Here are the latest developments in the battle against Covid-19.
Global Covid-19 update
New Year celebrated under shadow of Covid
The world celebrates the New Year with festivities cancelled or severely curtailed, with the third year of the pandemic marked by an explosion of infections but timid signs of hope for 2022.
Britain, the United States and even Australia, long protected from the pandemic, break records for new recorded cases, while France announces that Omicron is now the dominant strain in the country.
US flights cancelled
The United States had 2,604 cancelled flights, more than half of the 4,529 cancelled worldwide, shortly after 4:30 pm (2130 GMT), according to tracking website FlightAware.
In addition, 3,447 domestic flights were delayed on Saturday, out of a total of 7,602 worldwide for the day.
The worst affected US airline was Southwest, which had to cancel 13% of its flight schedule, according to the site.
Europe tops 100 million cases
Europe, the current epicentre of the pandemic, passes the milestone of 100 million cases identified since the virus emerged in December 2019.
This is more than a third of the total cases worldwide, according to an AFP tally at 1845 GMT on Saturday.
Sporting calendar thrown into chaos
The Omicron variant disrupts the sporting calendar with countless fixtures postponed all over the world in sports, ranging from football and rugby to basketball, boxing and volleyball.
Dutch police raid Covid-19-rule-breaking rave
Dutch police break up a rave party in breach of Covid rules that was attended by hundreds in a disused factory, local media report.
Dozens of police officers enter the makeshift venue in the central town of Rijswijk with hundreds more mobilised to shepherd people away, NOS television says.
France says six-year-olds must wear masks on public transport
The French government says children aged six and above will have to wear a face mask on public transport from Monday.
Masks had previously been compulsory from the age of 11, but Paris is tightening regulations given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
UK minister says ‘try to live with virus’
Britain’s health minister insists that reimposing coronavirus restrictions in England will be “an absolute last resort” and that the country must “try to live with Covid”.
“Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid writes in an article.
Cases quadruple in Guadeloupe
The number of new cases of Covid-19 has quadrupled in four days on the French island of Guadeloupe, rising to 2,191 compared with 543 cases over seven days last week.
© Agence France-Presse / Additional reporting by Cheryl Kahla.