India daily COVID-19 case count reaches eight-month peak

India has reported its highest daily count of new novel coronavirus infections, with more than 271,000 cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, vaccinated travellers will not be asked for COVID-19 tests on their return from holidays starting from next month, according to British daily The Times.

Beijing Omicron case prompts temple closures, queues for COVID tests

China reported 65 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for January 15, including the first Omicron case in Beijing, just weeks from the February 4 start of the city’s Winter Olympic Games and the country’s Lunar New Year holiday.

That was down from 104 comparable cases a day earlier, as the outbreak in the northwestern city of Xian winds down after strict lockdowns.

But the highly transmissible Omicron variant has been detected in at least five provinces and municipalities, prompting cities to impose curbs to stop its spread and threatening to further undercut slowing economic growth.

Australia court rules Novak Djokovic to be deported

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has lost his chance to defend his Australian Open title after an Australian court upheld a government deportation order.

Three Federal Court judges sided with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision made on Friday to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds.

UK Conservative chairman asks Johnson to address culture of staff parties

The British Conservative Party chairman rejected calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign but said he must address the culture within his government that resulted in multiple staff gatherings at his residence during coronavirus lockdowns.

Johnson has apologised for attending a gathering in the garden of his Downing Street residence in May 2020 where staff had been invited to bring their own alcohol at a time when strict rules forbade the public from almost all socialising.

Amid a public backlash at the perception that the government did not follow its own rules during the pandemic, an internal investigation is looking at that party and several others – including two separate parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral.

India daily COVID-19 case count touches eight-month peak

India has reported 271,202 new daily cases of the novel coronavirus, its highest daily count in eight months, taking its total tally to 37.12 million, the federal health ministry said.

Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 314 to 486,066, the ministry said.

N Korea train makes first crossing into China since border lockdown: Reports

A North Korean cargo train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday, in what would be the first confirmed crossing since anti-coronavirus border lockdowns began, according to media reports.

North Korea has not officially reported any COVID-19 cases and has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs, since the pandemic began in December 2019.

A North Korean freight train crossed the Yalu River railway bridge to arrive in the Chinese town of Dandong on Sunday, Yonhap News Agency said, citing multiple unnamed sources.

Beijing reports first local Omicron case

The first locally transmitted Omicron case has been detected in the Chinese capital, Beijing, officials said, weeks before the city is due to host the Winter Olympic Games.

State television reported on Saturday that the new COVID infection had been identified as the Omicron strain.

Lab testing found “mutations specific to the Omicron variant” in the person, an official at the city’s disease control authority, Pang Xinghuo, told a news briefing.

Britain will not require COVID tests for fully vaccinated travellers: Report

Britain’s vaccinated travellers will be able to go on half-term holidays next month without taking COVID-19 tests on their return, The Times reported.

Transport minister Grant Shapps is in favour of ending the testing system for the double-jabbed in time for the February break, the report said.

An announcement on the change in guidance would be made on January 26, the report said.

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