Some more data from Italy. The number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 5,428 on Saturday, up from 5,385 a day earlier.
There were 59 admissions to intensive care units, down from 60 on Friday, Reuters reports.
The total number of intensive care patients increased to 732 from a previous 708.
Some 636,592 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 588,445, the health ministry said.
International arrivals to UK will be required to have pre-departure Covid tests
All international arrivals to the UK will again be required to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests, the health secretary Sajid Javid announced.
The rule applies to all travellers visiting the UK or returning from a holiday, regardless of vaccination status, and will come into force from 4am on 7 December.
Nigeria is also being added to the travel red list, joining several southern African nations which were added after the Omicron variant was detected.
Higher hospital admissions among children during a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in South Africa that has been driven by the Omicron coronavirus variant should not prompt panic as infections have been mild, a health official said.
A large number of infants admitted with coronavirus last month in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes the capital Pretoria, raised concerns that the newly identified Omicron could pose greater risks for young children than other variants. Scientists have yet to confirm any link and have cautioned that other factors could be at play. Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in the Gauteng province, told Reuters that out of the 1,511 Covid-positive patients in hospitals in the province 113 were under 9 years old, a greater proportion than during previous waves of infection.
Italy reported 75 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, the health ministry said.
The daily tally of new infections was 16,632.
Italy has registered 134,152 deaths linked to Covid-19 since February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.
It has reported more than five million cases to date.
More than 40,000 people marched through Vienna on Saturday to protest against a lockdown and plans to make vaccinations compulsory to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Faced with a surge in infections, the government last month made Austria the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a lockdown and said it would make vaccinations mandatory from February.
Around 1,200 police officers deployed to handle scattered protests that merged into a march on the central Ring boulevard.
Police put the size of the protest at over 40,000, while around 1,500 staged counter-protests, Reuters reports.
In the darkest days of the pandemic, with the industry she represented on its knees and no light at the end of the tunnel, the boss of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, went to see a therapist.
She had been acting as an “emotional sponge”, soaking up the anguish of tens of thousands of pubs, bars and restaurants fearing oblivion, while trying to shield her team, particularly the younger members, from the ravages of a uniquely stressful event.
“There were times when it was really quite bleak,” she says. “Particularly when you got to October and November last year. We were in tears: there was that sense of frustration that businesses are open but not able to trade and you could see it all sliding away from you again.”
UK death toll increases by 127
The UK has recorded 127 deaths Covid-related deaths and 42,848 positive cases in the latest 24-hour period, government figures show.
It brings the total number of cases to 10,421,104 and the death toll to 145,551.
Summary of the latest news
- In Brazil, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro has announced the cancellation of the city’s world famous New Year’s Eve celebrations amid fears over the impact the Omicron variant could have on a country which has already lost more than 615,000 lives to Covid.
- The German government has announced a lockdown for the unvaccinated and is considering making Covid vaccines mandatory, after weeks of record infections in the country and much of German-speaking Europe. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Saturday urged Germans to get vaccinated against Covid-19, speaking days ahead of leaving office in the final episode of more than 600 weekly video podcasts.
- The Omicron variant has been detected in at least 38 countries but no deaths have yet been reported, the World Health Organization has said, amid warnings that it could damage the global economic recovery.
- UK government officials and scientific advisers believe that the danger posed by the Omicron variant may not be clear until January, potentially allowing weeks of intense mixing while the variant spreads.
- Doctors’ leaders in England have welcomed a move to suspend some targets for GPs to enable them to concentrate on the vaccination programme, but warned the service remains under pressure.
- The UK prime minister has been reported to the police by Labour MPs over allegations there were at least two parties in Downing Street during lockdown restrictions last year.
- South Korea again broke its daily records for coronavirus infections and deaths and confirmed three more cases of the new Omicron variant as officials scramble to tighten social distancing and border controls. The 5,352 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday marked the third time this week the daily tally exceeded 5,000. The country’s death toll was at 3,809 after a record 70 virus patients died in the past 24 hours, while the 752 patients in serious or critical conditions were also an all-time high.