Live updates: France to allow limited flights from Africa

PARIS – A spokesperson said the French government will allow flights carrying French and European citizens from southern Africa to resume under very strict conditions from Saturday.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the move would lift a suspension of flights from the region for “very few” travelers that France imposed last week as a precaution after identification of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Travel for family visits, work or tourism will still not be allowed, Attal said.

Only passengers returning home to France or working as diplomats or for airlines will be allowed into the country, he said.

Under rules that take effect on Saturday, travelers departing from 10 countries, including South Africa and neighboring countries Zambia and Mauritius, will need to be tested for the virus both before their flight and after their flight. arrival.

If the test is negative, they will be required to quarantine themselves for 7 days. If the test is positive, they will be isolated in a hotel for 10 days, Attal said.



US to toughen testing requirements for travelers

Nigeria detects first case of omicron from an October sample, weeks before South Africa alerted the world to the variant

Japan begins COVID booster vaccinations in the midst of omicron fear

Austrian containment extended until December 11 as planned

Go to for updates throughout the day.



MIAMI – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami is making face coverings optional for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students whose parents sign withdrawal documents.

The Archdiocese made the announcement on Tuesday, citing statistics from the COVID-19 community and advice from medical advisers, CDC, and the Miami-Dade County Department of Health.

The CDC recommends wearing the mask in indoor public places, including schools, in areas of high or high community transmission. Florida was the only state in the United States where transmission was low in almost all counties on Wednesday, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker.

Face masks were already optional for fully immunized students and teachers.

“We felt the time had come to live up to what we have said from the start – that we will study the data and monitor it,” said Mary Ross Agosta, spokesperson for the archdiocese, at the Miami Herald.

She said the archdiocese would keep a close eye on the omicron variant and follow the advice of public health experts.


WARSAW, Poland – The Polish Prime Minister has received a reminder against the coronavirus and has issued an emotional appeal to citizens to get vaccinated, as 570 new deaths in one day have been reported from COVID-19.

Mateusz Morawiecki’s appeal on Wednesday was directed to a nation with an immunization rate of just 54%. The number of people fully vaccinated has increased very slowly in recent weeks, although fears of the new omicron variant seemed to prompt some to finally get vaccinated.

Poland has also reported more than 29,000 new infections, the highest infection rate since a wave of the virus in the spring made central Europe a global hotspot.

Morawiecki said Christmas could be much more peaceful if millions more in the nation of 38 million people get vaccinated soon. He pointed out that Christmas is a time when children meet their grandparents, and that many such gatherings in the past have “unfortunately… tragically ended”.

He also spoke in favor of a proposal allowing employers to check whether their employees are vaccinated – an idea that is meeting resistance.


GENEVA – The World Health Organization says the rate of increase in coronavirus cases has remained stable over the past week, although its regions in Africa, the Western Pacific and Europe have all reported gains .

At the same time, new weekly COVID-19 deaths have fallen by 10% globally.

The U.N. health agency said in its latest weekly epidemiological report on the pandemic that the number of cases has increased by 93% in Africa, although it cautioned against overinterpreting the high figure because it was largely due to the “batch reporting” of antigen testing by the South. Africa.

The report, released on Wednesday, first referred to the new omicron variant that the WHO named on Friday. WHO said the variant, which was first detected in South Africa and Botswana, had been reported in a “limited number” of countries in four of the health agency’s six regions.

As of Sunday, more than 280 million cases and more than 5.2 million deaths were recorded as a result of the pandemic, the WHO said.


BERLIN – The German intensive care association calls for the immediate imposition of uniform restrictions nationwide and warns that the number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care will reach a new high before Christmas.

German federal and state leaders are expected to decide on new measures on Thursday to curb the recent sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz has said he will support a proposal to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory for everyone next year.

The DIVI association said on Wednesday that more than 6,000 COVID-19 patients will need intensive care treatment before Christmas and that last year’s all-time high will be broken. He said more than 2,300 new patients have been admitted to intensive care units in the last week alone and that transferring patients to Germany is not a long-term solution.

The association has called for at least 1 million vaccines, including boosters, to be given per day. The number of vaccinations has risen sharply in recent days but is still below that bar, at an average of 660,000 per day over the past week.

Germany reported its highest one-day death toll since February on Wednesday, with an additional 446 deaths, bringing the country’s total to 101,790 to date.


GENEVA – The head of the World Health Organization welcomes the steps taken by his member states to start work on an international agreement to help prevent and prepare for future pandemics in the wake of the coronavirus.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the consensus decision at a long-scheduled special session of members of the UN health agency was “a cause for celebration.” He is kicking off work to create an “intergovernmental negotiating body” to draft an agreement, which will likely take months, if not years, to be finalized.

“Of course, there is still a long way to go. There are still differences of opinion on what a new agreement could or should contain, ”he said.


LISBON, Portugal – Portugal is entering a so-called state of calamity – the second this year – to reverse a rising trend in coronavirus infections despite one of Europe’s strongest vaccination records.

The state of calamity is a notch below the country’s highest alert level.

The country is tightening passenger screening at airports, seaports and land borders, requiring negative coronavirus tests for most inbound visitors under the new set of rules that go into effect on Wednesday.

Face masks are required again in confined spaces and coronavirus vaccination or COVID-19 recovery tests are required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels.

Experts estimate that Portugal’s vaccination rate, which at 87% of more than 10 million inhabitants is one of the highest in the world, has protected the country from the spikes in infection recently experienced by countries of ‘North Europe.

Yet hospitalizations have been on the rise since September. Authorities recorded 2,907 new infections on Tuesday, with 833 people hospitalized, 116 in intensive care units and 15 deaths.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Saudi Arabia has said it has detected its first case of the novel variant of the omicron coronavirus.

The state-run Saudi news agency said the case came from a citizen from what she described as a “North African country.”

The report says the infected person and his close contacts have been quarantined.

The case marks the first known case of omicron detected among Arab Gulf countries.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, which has been identified in more than 20 countries, including whether it is more contagious, if it makes people more seriously ill, and if it can thwart the vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, said more will be known about the omicron strain in two to four weeks, as scientists grow and test laboratory samples of the virus.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Health officials say a spectator who attended a concert in northern Denmark with a local DJ tested positive for the new variant of the omicron coronavirus.

The concert brought together nearly 2,000 people on Saturday in Aalborg. The Danish Patient Safety Authority urged everyone who attended the event to get tested, Danish broadcaster DR said on Wednesday.

The Statens Serum Institut, another government agency that maps the spread of COVID-19 in Denmark, said on Tuesday that four cases of omicron had been reported in the Scandinavian country. It was not immediately clear if the viewer was included or if this was a new case.


TOKYO – Japan has asked international airlines to stop taking new bookings for all flights arriving in the country until the end of December as part of a further tightening of already strict border controls.

The Department of Transportation said the request was an emergency precautionary measure.

The world’s third-largest economy decision, coupled with its recent reversion to banning foreign visitors, is among the strictest in the world and more in line with cloistered neighboring China than some other democracies in the region.

It comes as scientists work frantically to determine just how threatening the omicron is.

Japan has confirmed a second case of the omicron variant in a person arriving from Peru, a day after reporting its first case to a Namibian diplomat.

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