Live updates: France reports first case of Omicron on the mainland

PARIS – French health authorities said they have discovered the first confirmed case of the new COVID-19 variant in…

French health authorities said they have detected the first confirmed case of the new COVID-19 variant in the country’s mainland.

A man in his fifties living in the Paris city area tested positive for the omicron variant after returning from a trip to Nigeria, the regional health agency in Ile-de-France said Thursday.

He had no symptoms when he and his wife tested positive on November 25 upon their return to France. The wife test is being checked for omicron. They have been quarantined in their home since testing positive.

Much remains unknown about the new alternative, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more dangerous, and whether it could thwart vaccines.

A third person who lives in the same home with the couple was tested Thursday to determine if he was infected and, if so, whether he was carrying the new surrogate.

The statement said none of the three people had been vaccinated.

France reported its first case of Omicron on Tuesday in the Indian Ocean territory of Reunion Island. The patient was identified as a man who returned to Reunion from South Africa and Mozambique on 20 November.


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What is the status of the mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States?

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Biden launches a new enhanced testing campaign for the Corona virus in the winter

Go to for updates throughout the day.


Here’s what’s also happening today:

LISBON, Portugal – Portugal’s health authorities said they have confirmed five more cases of the new omicron variant, bringing a total of 19 cases, all linked to the Lisbon football club.

The country’s director general of health, Graça Vitas, said other suspected cases of Omicron are being investigated across the country.

Freitas told public radio RTP that the number of new daily COVID-19 infections in Portugal could double by the end of the month, to about 9,000.

Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, where nearly 87% of its population of 10.3 million have been vaccinated, Portugal is ramping up its epidemic response amid the emergence of the omicron variant.

It conducted about 117,000 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday – the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began.


The Hague, Netherlands – More than half of the group of airline passengers who traveled to the Netherlands from South Africa have been released and isolated after testing positive for COVID-19.

The local health authority said Thursday that more than half of the remaining 44 people who were quarantined in a hotel near the airport are being allowed out after testing negative.

The director of the local health authority, Bert van de Velden, praised the travelers who arrived last week at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport for their “good cooperation in what was for them a difficult situation of isolation”.

More than 600 passengers were tested last week on the last two flights to reach the Netherlands after the government imposed a flight ban over the discovery of an omicron variant in South Africa.

Those who tested positive for the virus have been forced into isolation. Sequencing subsequently demonstrated that at least 14 of them had the new variant.


Seoul, South Korea – South Korea broke its daily record of coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, with more than 5,200 new cases.

The rapid delta-driven deployment comes amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.

On Wednesday evening, South Korea confirmed its first five cases of Omicron linked to arrivals from Nigeria, prompting the government to tighten its border controls.

The country will require all passengers arriving from abroad for the next two weeks to self-quarantine for at least 10 days, regardless of their nationality or vaccination status.

Health experts have called on the government to reimpose strict social distancing rules that were relaxed in November to improve the economy, raising fears that hospital systems could be overwhelmed.


Budapest, Hungary – The number of daily deaths from COVID-19 in Hungary has reached a high level not seen since the devastating wave last spring, with 218 cases reported on Thursday.

Hungary now has the highest number of daily deaths per million inhabitants in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with 17.7 deaths per million in the country of less than 10 million people.

Less than 60% of Hungary’s total population has been fully vaccinated, which is lower than the EU average of 66.2%.

As many of the central European country’s neighbors have imposed lockdowns, nightly curfews and other measures, Hungary’s government has chosen to keep its economy open.

Despite a mass vaccination campaign that began last week, the increase in new cases has continued and the number of daily deaths has reached the highest level since April 16.


Milan – The Italian Medicines Agency has approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11.

Thursday’s decision came less than a week after the European Union Medicines Organization said it was safe to use the vaccine for children.

Italian officials said children will get a third of the allowable dose for adults and teens, in two doses three weeks apart, starting on December 15.

In Italy, 77% of the total population is fully vaccinated and officials are urging eligible residents to get a booster dose.


Britain has ordered another 114 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as it ramps up its campaign to give all adults a booster dose.

Health officials hope the increased protection will help keep the potentially more transmissible new Omicron variant away, even if it proves more resistant to vaccines than other strains.

The government says 60 million doses of Moderna and 54 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered in 2022 and 2023 — a sign authorities believe other booster doses may be needed.

The World Health Organization has criticized rich countries for hoarding vaccines while many countries have received few or no vaccines.

Britain says it will give developing countries 100 million doses of the vaccine by mid-2022, but most of it has yet to be delivered.


ATHENS, Greece – Greek lawmakers have approved legislation making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all people over the age of 60 who live in the country under pain of a monthly fine, to deal with an increase in infection and the emergence of the omicron variant.

The bill, backed on Wednesday by the center-right government and a center-left opposition party – but rejected by all other opposition parties – targets the age group in the country most at risk of dying or intubation due to the coronavirus.

About 17% of Greeks over the age of 60 have not been vaccinated. They have until January 16 to get their first dose or they will be fined 100 euros ($113) for each month they remain unvaccinated.

Parties who opposed the measure said it was too harsh for low-income people who did not want to be vaccinated.


Des Moines, Iowa – Hospital admissions in Iowa due to the coronavirus have reached an all-time high this year, with 721 people hospitalized.

The last time hospitals reached that level was in mid-December of 2020 when the country was regressing from the historical peak of COVID-19 activity in November.

The number of hospitalized patients peaked at more than 1,500 in mid-November 2020. Data from the Iowa Department of Public Health released on Wednesday indicates that there are 10 children 11 years of age or younger in the hospital. They are all unvaccinated.

An additional unvaccinated child between the ages of 12 and 17 is admitted to the hospital. The state also confirmed 91 additional deaths in the past week, some dating back to mid-September. Iowa officials have reported a total of 7,445 deaths from COVID-19.


New cases of COVID-19 in South Africa nearly doubled in a single day, authorities said on Wednesday, indicating a significant increase in the country where scientists discovered the omicron variant last week.

New confirmed cases rose to 8,561 on Wednesday from 4,373 the day before, according to official statistics.

Scientists in South Africa said they are preparing for a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases after the discovery of a new omicron variant.

“There is a possibility that we will see a significant increase in the number of cases being identified in South Africa,” Dr. Nixi Gumed Moelitsi, a regional virologist at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced Wednesday that the omicron variant has been detected in five of South Africa’s nine provinces, accounting for 74% of the virus’ genomes sequenced in November.

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