Covid news live: WHO warns Omicron poses ‘very high' risk; new variant detected in at least a dozen countries

LIVE – Updated at 01:39

Covid news live: WHO warns Omicron poses ‘very high’ risk; new variant detected in at least a dozen countries
© Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP A syringe is loaded with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Madrid, Spain. The WHO has warned that the Omicron Covid variant poses a very high global risk.

The ‘highly mutated’ Omicron variant poses a very high global risk of infection surges, the WHO says; Sweden, Spain and Portugal are the latest countries to confirm the presence of the new variant.



Hi everyone, it’s Samantha Lock here, ready to take you through all the new Covid developments this Tuesday.

It’s been a busy past few days on the Covid front with nations racing to close borders and reimpose restrictions after a new Covid variant was detected last week.

The Omicron variant has now been detected in at least a dozen countries including Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Israel, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.

The head of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the threat posed by the “highly mutated” Omicron variant shows what a “perilous and precarious” situation the world is in, as he warned that the pandemic would not end until every country has access to vaccines.

Let’s dive right back in with a quick recap of all the key developments you may have missed from the past few hours.

  • The World Health Organisation said the Omicron variant is likely to spread internationally, posing a “very high” global risk where Covid-19 surges could have “severe consequences” in some areas.
  • UK to ramp up booster vaccinations and will halve the minimum gap in between jabs to three months aims with an aim to administer 500,000 jabs a day.
  • The UK also announced that all adults would be eligible for a booster jab as part of the country’s response to the Omicron variant.
  • UK records 42,583 new cases and further 35 deaths.
  • France records a big jump in Covid cases after the health minister said the country had entered the fifth wave of the pandemic last week.
  • Omicron has been detected in at least a dozen countries including Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Israel, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa.
  • Sweden, Canada, Spain and Portugal reported their first cases linked to the omicron variant.
  • US president Joe Biden has said the Omicron variant “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”. The CDC is also urging all US adults 18 and over to get booster shots. No further travel restrictions were planned for the US.
  • President Xi Jinping said China would offer another 1bn doses of Covid vaccines to African countries and would encourage Chinese companies to invest $10bn in Africa over the next three years, Reuters reports.
  • Poland, Ghana and Norway announced new restrictions on travel and socialising.



Here’s quick snapshot of the latest global Covid-19 data.

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