Covid Omicron news latest: Australia sees deadliest day of the pandemic with 74 deaths

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US yet to reach ‘national peak’ of Omicron wave, says Surgeon General

Australia has recorded its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic with 74 deaths recorded nationwide in the last 24 hours as it suffers its worst outbreak fuelled by the Omicron variant.

The states that recorded the most deaths are New South Wales at 36, Victoria, which reported 22 deaths and Queensland reported 16.

“Today is a very difficult day for our state,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said during a media briefing, adding that hospitals can still cope with the rising number of admissions.

“Despite the challenges, they are not unique to the rest of the world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Victoria on Tuesday declared a “code brown” in hospitals, typically reserved for shorter-term emergencies, that would give hospitals the power to cancel non-urgent health services and cancel staff leave.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there were signs that New South Wales’ infection rate was peaking and Victoria was near a plateau.

It is the first time the emergency has been activated in multiple hospitals across the state.

Authorities have said unvaccinated younger people form a “significant number” of the country’s hospital admissions.

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Boris Johnson lied about lockdown party, Dominic Cummings claims

#ICYMI Dominic Cummings says evidence will show Boris Johnson “lied to parliament” when he denied knowing about the No 10 garden party, plunging his position deeper into jeopardy.

In an explosive blog post, Mr Cummings wrote: “Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened.”

The Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more:

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 06:50

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Poland has entered a fifth wave of Covid, says minister

Poland is experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, country’s health minister said on Monday, warning that the spread of the Omicron variant could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.

While daily case numbers have fallen since early December, the European Union’s largest eastern member has had little respite since the fourth wave, regularly reporting over 10,000 new infections per day amid low vaccine take-up and limited restrictions on public life.

“We predict that the peak of infections will be in mid-February and that peak is about 60,000 cases a day,” Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.

The highest number of daily cases reported since the pandemic began was 35,251 on 1 April 2021.

Mr Niedzielski said that he expected figures released on Tuesday to show in excess of 20,000 daily cases.

The country of around 38 million has so far reported 4,323,482 cases of coronavirus and 102,309 deaths.

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 06:30

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UK could scrap all Covid rules as eary as March

The government is said to be drawing up plans to ditch Covid laws in England from as early as the spring.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be considering a permanent revocation of emergency coronavirus laws he brought in at the start of the pandemic.

The Covid legislation, which is set to expire in a few months’ time, includes the legal obligation for someone infected with Covid to self-isolate – with failure to do so punishable with a fine of up to £10,000.

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 06:10

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Japan to impose restrictions in Tokyo and nine other regions as Omicron cases surge

Japan’s government is preparing social restrictions in Tokyo and other regions as the omicron variant of the coronavirus infects more people.

Japan has never had a lockdown during the pandemic but has focused instead on asking restaurants and bars to close early. Crowds are back in many parts of Japan, with people packing stores and events, while Covid-19 cases jump.

The order will be finalized this week and is likely to take effect on Friday for Tokyo and nine other regions, including Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi and Kumamoto the government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 05:50

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Two ex-air crew arrested in Hong Kong for breaking Covid rules

Hong Kong police arrested two former flight attendants for allegedly leaving their homes when they should have been in isolation for possible coronavirus infections, which were later confirmed.

The two arrived from the US on 24 and 25 December. While in medical surveillance, they had “conducted unnecessary activities,” according to a government statement posted late Monday.

While the statement did not name their employer, the arrests came after flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it had fired two crew members for breaching coronavirus protocols. Both later tested positive for the omicron variant. Read more:

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 05:30

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Covid-19 pandemic may be coming to an end in the UK, WHO expert suggests

The Covid pandemic may be coming to an end in the UK, a leading expert has suggested, despite the government’s scientific advisers warning that claims the virus is now endemic are premature.

Dr David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, has said there is now “light at the end of the tunnel” for the UK in tackling the disease.

His words come as national hospital admissions fell for the sixth day in a row on Monday, from 2,180 to 1,604.

Our health correspondent Rebecca Thomas has more:

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 05:06

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Australia records deadliest day of the pandemic

Australia reported a record high of Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday with its second-largest state declaring an emergency in hospitals to cope with surging patient admissions and a staffing shortage.

The 74 deaths occurred in its three most populous states. New South Wales reported 36, Victoria reported 22 and Queensland 16. The previous daily record was 59 coronavirus-related deaths on 4 September 2020.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there were signs that New South Wales’ infection rate was peaking and Victoria was near a plateau.

The New South Wales government has ruled out a return to lockdown to counter the highly contagious omicron variant.

Another lockdown would have “substantial consequences for men and women right across the state in terms of being able to provide food on the table for their family,” state Premier Domonic Perrottet told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“Today is a very difficult day for our state,” Mr Perrottet said during a media briefing, adding that hospitals can still cope with the rising number of admissions.

“Despite the challenges, they are not unique to the rest of the world,” he said.

Victoria declared an emergency for hospitals in its state capital, Melbourne, and several regional hospitals from midday on Wednesday because of staff shortages and a surge in patient admissions. About 5,000 staff are absent because they are either infected or were in close contact with an infected person.

“We’ve reached a point in our healthcare system where it’s juggling extreme workforce shortages. alongside a vast number of patients with Covid-19 who require hospitalisation, alongside that an extraordinary workforce that are absolutely exhausted,” Acting Health Minister James Merlino said.

It is the first time the emergency has been activated in multiple hospitals across the state.

Authorities have said unvaccinated younger people form a “significant number” of the country’s hospital admissions.

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 04:48

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Good Morning!

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Stay tuned for rolling updates and statistics.

Stuti Mishra18 January 2022 04:24

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