Friday Dec 17, 2021
PARIS: Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
France "drastically tightens" restrictions on travel to and from Britain from Saturday with tourists and business trips banned to slow the spread of the Omicron variant which is raging in southern England.
The UK government reports another daily record of 88,376 new Covid cases, as Britons change their festive plans, including Queen Elizabeth II who cancels her traditional pre-Christmas family lunch.
European Union leaders agree to speed up vaccinations and booster shots, saying they will be vital to counter the Omicron variant, also emphasising the need for "coordinated efforts" based on science.
The Bank of England lifts interest rates to 0.25 percent to combat decade-high inflation, making Britain the first of the G7 nations to raise borrowing costs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The European Central Bank says it will wind down its 1.85-trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) pandemic-era bond purchasing programme by March, as the eurozone comes under pressure from soaring inflation.
Denmark becomes the first EU country to recommend US drugmaker Merck's anti-Covid treatment molnupiravir for at-risk patients with symptoms.
The European Medicines Agency approves Pfizer's Covid pill for emergency use by individual member states struggling with Omicron, pending formal approval across the bloc.
The EU's drug regulator also recommends two new treatments against Covid-19 for use in the bloc -- Kineret, an immunosuppressive used to treat inflammatory conditions and GlaxoSmithKline's Xevudy drug.
Russian lawmakers approve legislation in a first reading that will require people to show health passes to access public places like bars and restaurants.
Brazil's health regulator approves the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged five to 11, although it is not clear when the hard-hit South American country will begin vaccinating children, if at all.
The Premier League postpones six more football matches, as the coronavirus crisis wreaks further havoc on the English top-flight.
A one-day international series between hosts Pakistan and the West Indies starting this weekend is called off because of a Covid-19 outbreak among the visitors.
Supporters attending next month's Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon will have to show proof of vaccination and present a negative Covid-19 test result, amid growing speculation the tournament could be called off again.
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,328,762 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP Thursday at 1100 GMT.
The countries with the most per capita new cases over the last week are all in Europe: the Netherlands the worst with 1,151 per 100,000 people, followed by Denmark with 869, the Czech Republic with 792, Belgium with 763 and Switzerland with 733.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.