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COVID-19: Top news stories about the coronavirus pandemic on 16 December – World Economic Forum

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Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 272.3 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has passed 5.33 million. More than 8.59 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
Some British hospitals are struggling to maintain staffing levels due to the number who are having to isolate with COVID-19, a senior emergency doctor said on Thursday. Britain on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with a further 78,610 COVID-19 infections reported.
South Korea said on Thursday it will reinstate stricter social distancing rules a month-and-a-half after easing them under a ‘living with COVID-19’ policy. The number of new infections and serious cases is growing rapidly in South Korea. Curbs will return from Saturday to Jan. 2, limiting gatherings to no more than four people – as long as they are fully vaccinated – and forcing restaurants, cafes and bars to close by 9 p.m.

South Africa’s National Coronavirus Command Council has retained its lockdown at ‘adjusted level 1’, or the lowest of a five-tier system of restrictions, in the battle on the Omicron variant, health authorities said on Thursday. In the past few days, South Africa has reported more than 20,000 new daily COVID-19 infections, but its scientists see no sign yet that the variant causes more severe illness.
Sweden will require visitors from other Nordic nations to have a vaccine pass to cross the border as it gradually tightens restrictions in the face of rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and worries about the Omicron variant, the government said on Thursday. Sweden has seen new infections jump in recent days. It has reintroduced a limited number of measures and authorities said further steps would be needed if infections kept rising.
Danish health authorities on Thursday approved treatment with Merck & Co Inc’s molnupiravir tablet for COVID-19 patients at risk of serious illness, including the elderly. The medication has yet to be approved by the European Medical Agency,
Indonesia is working hard to stem the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant after detecting its first case, its President Joko Widodo said Thursday. In a public address, the president urged people to diligently enforce health protocols, and local governments to accelerate testing and contact tracing.
France will increase controls on travellers arriving from Britain after a steep rise there in infections linked to the Omicron coronavirus variant, the government said on Thursday.
The measures include reducing the validity of antigen and PCR tests to 24 hours from 48 hours for arriving travellers and limiting reasons to travel from Britain to France.
“We are going to put in place a control… even more drastic than what is currently in place,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM television.
“Tourism and business travel for people who are not French nationals nor Europeans, people who are not French residents will be limited,” he said.
Travellers from Britain arriving in France will have to self-isolate for seven days, though isolation will be lifted after 48 hours if their test conducted in France is negative.
These restrictions until now applied only to non-vaccinated travellers from Britain.
“Our goal is to limit as much as possible the spread of Omicron across our territory,” Attal said, adding there were currently 240 confirmed Omicron cases in France.
France on Wednesday reported 65,713 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours, bringing total cases since the start of the epidemic to 8.4 million. Total deaths in France since the start of the epidemic reached 120,983
The first human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine was administered this week.
CEPI, launched at the World Economic Forum, provided funding support for the Phase 1 study. The organization this week announced their seventh COVID-19 vaccine project in the fight against the pandemic.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched in 2017 at the Forum’s Annual Meeting – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.
Coalitions like CEPI are made possible through public-private partnerships. The World Economic Forum is the trusted global platform for stakeholder engagement, bringing together a range of multistakeholders from business, government and civil society to improve the state of the world.
Organizations can partner with the Forum to contribute to global health solutions. Contact us to find out how.
Euro zone business growth has slowed more than expected this month as renewed restrictions imposed to curb the Omicron coronavirus variant curtail the recovery in the bloc’s dominant services industry, a survey showed on Thursday.
Europe is facing a fourth wave of infections and many governments have been encouraging citizens to stay home and avoid unnecessary social contact.
IHS Markit’s Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a good indicator of overall economic health, dropped to 53.4 in December from 55.4 in November, its lowest since March and below the 54.0 predicted in a Reuters poll.
That headline number was dragged down by the services PMI, which sank to an eight-month low of 53.3 from 55.9. While above the 50-mark separating growth from contraction it missed the Reuters poll estimate for 54.1.
“The euro zone economy is being dealt yet another blow from COVID-19, with rising infection levels dampening growth in the service sector, in particular, to result in a disappointing end to 2021,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

Simon Torkington, Senior Writer, Formative Content
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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