KEY COVID NOS. WORLDWIDE
Pos / Country / New Daily cases / Total Deaths / Daily Deaths / Active Cases / Deaths/1M Pop.
0 World 4,18,167 / 52,23,121 / 5,074 / 2,02,86,405 / 670.1
1 USA 48,679 / 8,00,340 / 269 / 95,00,560 / 2,398
2 Russia 33,860 / 2,73,964 / 1,209 / 10,34,458 / 1,876
3 UK 42,583 / 1,44,810 / 35 / 10,18,476 / 2,117
4 Germany 42,582 / 1,01,652 / 241 / 8,71,091 / 1,208
5 Netherlands 21,443 / 19,349 / 32 / 4,97,110 / 1,126
6 Ukraine 5,804 / 85,414 / 297 / 4,21,699 / 1,970
7 Poland 13,115 / 83,055 / 18 / 4,15,135 / 2,198
8 France 8,279 / 1,19,016 / 122 / 3,96,048 / 1,818
9 Turkey 24,317 / 76,635 / 189 / 3,91,854 / 895
10 Belgium / 26,840 / / 3,67,639 / 2,302
11 Mexico 1,050 / 2,93,897 / 38 / 3,49,424 / 2,246
12 Czechia 9,292 / 32,929 / 51 / 2,64,407 / 3,067
13 Honduras / 10,403 / / 2,47,177 / 1,027
14 Vietnam 13,770 / 25,055 / 173 / 2,24,331 / 254
15 Italy 7,975 / 1,33,739 / 65 / 1,89,643 / 2,217
16 Hungary 27,830 / 34,326 / 460 / 1,85,141 / 3,566
17 Brazil 3,843 / 6,14,376 / 62 / 1,77,059 / 2,862
18 Norway / 1,050 / / 1,70,919 / 192
19 Austria 8,526 / 12,425 / 37 / 1,45,293 / 1,369
20 Spain 7,637 / 88,008 / 17 / 1,45,036 / 1,881
27 India 8,309 / 4,68,790 / 236 / 1,03,859 / 335
75 Pakistan 176 / 28,709 / / 13,895 / 127
89 Bangladesh 227 / 27,980 / 2 / 7,434 / 168
OMICRON VARIANT SHUTS BORDERS ACROSS THE GLOBE
The WHO said on Monday the Omicron coronavirus variant carried a very high risk of infection surges as more countries closed their borders and reported cases of the new strain.
Japan on Monday joined Israel and Morocco in barring all foreign travellers, and Australia delayed reopening its borders for two weeks. Japan described its ban on arrivals by foreigners as precautionary.
In Israel, a ban on arrivals by foreigners took effect overnight. Israel reopened to vaccinated tourists only four weeks ago.
The moves by Japan, Israel and Morocco stood in contrast to those in places like the US, Britain, Canada and the EU, which have all announced bans on travelers only from southern Africa.
The moves come as more and more countries detect Omicron cases. Scotland reported six cases of the new Omicron variant on Monday, and contact tracing is underway, said Humza Yousaf, the Scottish health secretary. One case of the Omicron variant has also been detected in Sweden, the Public Health Agency said on Monday. The case was detected in a test taken a little over a week ago from a person who had travelled from South Africa, it said in a statement. Spain too reported first case in a 51-yearold man who arrived from South Africa on Sunday after a layover in Amsterdam, Madrid’s regional health authorities said on Monday.
Canada’s province of Quebec too discovered a case of the new variant, the province’s health minister said, bringing Canada’s total number of cases to three.
Britain, meanwhile, reported eight more cases of the variant on Monday. Britain as a whole has reported 11 cases of the new variant.
Some countries proceeded with their plans to reopen on Monday, like Singapore and Malaysia, which opened their land border. Australia said on Monday that it would delay by two weeks its plan to reopen its borders to international students, skilled migrants and travellers.
Meanwhile, Indonesia on Monday joined a small but growing list of countries to bar travel with Hong Kong as well as the southern African region. Hong Kong detected two cases of Omicron on Thursday, prompting India, Pakistan and other nations to impose a travel ban. Cambodia said on Monday it was banning entry to travellers from 10 African countries to stop variant spread.
AUSTRALIA CHALLENGES FACEBOOK TO BACK ANTI-TROLL DEFAMATION LAW
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, Yesterday, announced proposed new legislation aimed at making online “trolls” accountable for their actions.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard Morrison decry trolls as “cowardly” and “un-Australian”, language that made it into the talking points at yesterday’s media conference. But is his new-found concern about trolling all it’s cracked up to be?
The proposed new legislation would give courts the power to force social media companies to pass on to people the details of their trolls, so they can pursue defamation action against them.
This decision is largely a reaction to the High Court’s upholding of the ruling in the Dylan Voller case, which now holds media companies responsible for defamatory comments posted on their social media pages. But there are some things that we need to be wary of in this legislation.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Morrison argued this legislation is a necessary means to curb online trolling. But the policy proposal largely deals with issues of defamation, which isn’t necessarily the same thing.
My main concern with this proposed legislation is that it will prompt social media companies to collect enough information on their users so they become readily identifiable upon request. This seems a very similar concept to the government’s suggestion earlier this year that Australians who set up social media accounts should have to provide 100 points of identification.
DORSEY STEPS DOWN, INDIAN-ORIGIN PARAG AGRAWAL TAKES OVER AS NEW TWITTER CEO
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on Monday stepped down as CEO, and announced that Indian American Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s current chief technology officer, will be taking his place with immediate effect.
Dorsey, who founded Twitter in 2006, announced the changes in a company email that he also posted on Twitter, confirming media reports of his departure. He will continue to serve on the board of Twitter until his term expires in 2022 to help with the transition, before moving on.
“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” Dorsey said in a statement.
Agrawal is a computer engineer from IIT Bombay and has been with Twitter for the past 10 years, the last four of which were as the company’s chief technology officer. He started at the company as an engineer in 2011 after stints at AT&T, Microsoft and Yahoo, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Dorsey cited Agarwal’s appointment by the board as one of the reasons for stepping down.
Agrawal becomes the newest entrant to the gallery of Indian Americans heading major US tech companies. He joins Google’s Sunder Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen.
FROM PFIZER TO MODERNA: WHAT VACCINE MAKERS ARE SAYING ABOUT OMICRON JABS
As omicron cases are being reported throughout the world, vaccine makers have said they are working on jabs that could tackle the new strain.
Omicron poses a "very high" risk globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Pfizer - The US drugmaker's CEO Albert Bourla has said Pfizer has already started working on a version of its Covid-19 vaccine specifically targeting the new Omicron variant in case the current inoculation is not effective against the latest strain.
Bourla said he was also "very confident" that Pfizer's recently unveiled antiviral pill would work as a treatment for infections caused by the mutations, including Omicron.
Moderna - Moderna Inc, another leading Covid-19 vaccine maker, has said it was developing a booster shot against the new variant.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson also said Monday that it is "pursuing an Omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed."
AstraZeneca - The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company has said it is examining the impact of omicron on its vaccine and its antibody cocktail and that it was hopeful its combination drug would retain efficacy.
"As with any new emerging variants, we are looking into B.1.1.529 to understand more about it and the impact on the vaccine," AstraZeneca said in a statement.
Sputnik V - The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which backs Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V's development by the state-run Gamaleya Center, the jab is effective against omicron but they were also developing an adapted booster.
Novavax - Novavax said it has started developing a spike protein specifically based on the known genetic sequence of the variant, B.1.1.529. "The initial work will take a few weeks," a company spokesperson said on Friday.
Inovio - Inovio also said it was simultaneously designing a new vaccine candidate that specifically targeted omicron.
SWEDEN ELECTS FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER — FOR THE SECOND TIME IN A WEEK
Magdalena Andersson, who last week was Sweden’s first woman PM for a few hours before resigning because a budget defeat made a coalition partner quit, was on Monday elected again as head of government. In a 101-173 vote with 75 abstentions, the 349-seat Riksdag elected Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, as PM.
She will form a one-party, minority government. The cabinet is expected to be named on Tuesday. Andersson served as PM for seven hours before stepping down last week after the Greens left her two-party coalition. Their move followed the rejection of her government’s budget proposal — in favour of one presented by opposition parties including the right-wing Sweden Democrats. Under the Swedish constitution, PM can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority — a minimum of 175 lawmakers — is not against them.
UAE RELAXES DRUG LAWS
The United Arab Emirates has eased some of its harsh drug laws, relaxing penalties for travellers who arrive in the country with products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main intoxicating chemical in cannabis.
The new law, published on Sunday in the UAE's official gazette, says people caught carrying food, drinks and other items with cannabis into the country will no longer land in prison if it's their first time. Instead, authorities will confiscate and destroy the products.
The law marks a noteworthy change for one of the world's most restrictive nations when it comes to importing common drugs for personal use.