WHO says 15 million people tested positive for COVID-19 last week, by far the most cases reported in a seven-day period.
Global COVID-19 cases reached a record high last week, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with 15 million people testing positive for the coronavirus in the seven days to January 9.
The figure marks a 55 percent increase from the previous seven days, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, adding that the “huge spike” was being driven by the Omicron variant.
While the highly infectious strain causes less severe disease than the Delta variant, Tedros says the Omicron remains a “dangerous virus”, particularly for those who are not vaccinated.
The WHO chief’s comments came as Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hokestra announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 and teachers in France launched a strike over the government’s “chaotic” virus strategy for schools.
Here are the latest updates:
Australia Open crowds capped at 50 percent
Authorities say crowds at the Australian Open will be capped at 50 percent capacity as COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions continue to rise in Melbourne.
Jaala Pulford, Victoria State tourism minister, said in a statement that face masks will also be mandatory at the opening Grand Slam of the year, which starts on Monday.
Spectators will be required to socially distance while indoors, she added.
French teachers to strike over ‘chaotic’ COVID strategy
French teachers are set to walk off the job over what they say is the government’s failure to adopt a coherent policy for schools to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, or properly protect pupils and staff against infection.
“The exhaustion and exasperation of the entire educational community have reached an unprecedented level,” eleven unions said in a joint statement.
“The responsibility of the minister and the government in this chaotic situation is total because of incessant changes of footing, unworkable protocols and the lack of appropriate tools to guarantee (schools) can function properly.”
The strike comes as teachers, parents and school administrators struggle to keep up with new testing rules, announced before the end of Christmas holidays but changed twice since following criticism.
Unions said they expected many schools to be closed on Thursday and very large numbers of teachers – including about 75 percent in primary schools – to join the one-day strike.
Dutch foreign minister has COVID-19
Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch foreign minister, says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be quarantining at home for the next few days.
He made the announcement on Twitter.
Hoekstra, who was only sworn in Monday, had been in Brussels on Tuesday where he met with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrel and Belgian foreign minister Sophie Wilmes.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives.
Read all the developments from January 12 here.