Omicron could spread in schools

“My concern is kids going back to school and in overcrowded schools, schools are expected to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. This is due to Omicron,” said Dr Daoni.

He said Omicron has shown to infect young people and children more than the other variants.

“Schools must prepare and put in place measures to cover for teachers in the event that a lot of teachers get infected and miss schools.

“At the same time, schools must work closely with parents to ensure that the spread among kids or children is minimized.

PM gets booster shot

PM Marape demonstrates his government’s commitment to ensure that everyone who wants to get vaccinated, has access to it.

Marape joined his fellow Members of Parliament Ministers Kerenga Kua and Jelta Wong and East Sepik Governor Allan Bird to receive the COVID-19 booster.

“People the world over are lining up for booster shots and it is incumbent on my Government to give our people access to leading science and research in so far as COVID-19 vaccines are concerned.

New South Wales' Omicron outbreak sparks a de facto 'lockdown'

Although the country's most populous state has few Covid-19 restrictions in place, businesses around NSW have been forced to close due to virus-induced staff absences.

Spending data analysed by ANZ last week indicated economic activity plummeting to levels lower than any other time during the pandemic.

"We're now facing economic situations that are worse than if we'd had an actual lockdown," said economist Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work.

Covid-19 experts fear Omicron could soon be in community as NZ border cases increase

The highly transmissible variant has rapidly spread around the globe and New Zealand has dodged a community outbreak so far.

But with the escalating number of overseas returnees testing positive, there are fears a new wave of the virus could be out in the community within weeks.

Epidemiologist and University of Otago professor Michael Baker called the variant a "huge threat" and said it was not a matter of if there was an outbreak, but when.

Omicron postpones Grammy Awards night

Uncertainty around the Omicron variant means going ahead "simply contains too many risks", according to a statement from the Recording Academy and CBS.

The event, which is regarded as music's biggest night, was scheduled to take place on 31 January in Los Angeles.

It will happen on a future date to be announced soon, organisers said.

The health and safety of the music community, the live audience and hundreds of employees remained their top priority, they added.

World reacts to UK DJ Dimension bringing New Zealand its first community Omicron case

UK-based Dimension, AKA Robert Etheridge, confirmed in an Instagram post he tested positive for Omicron, making him New Zealand's first community case of the fast-spreading COVID-19 variant.

The Ministry of Health said he arrived on a flight from the UK on December 16 and after three negative test results in managed isolation, was allowed to complete his final three days in self-isolation.

But the Ministry said he didn't wait for his negative day nine test result before leaving self-isolation, as required, and went on to visit multiple venues including a nightclub.

Thousands of flights scrapped globally as Omicron mars Christmas weekend

Airline carriers globally scrapped at least 2366 flights on Friday, which fell on Christmas Eve and is typically a heavy day for air travel, according to a running tally on the flight-tracking website Nearly 9000 more flights were delayed.

The website showed that 1616 Christmas Day flights were called off worldwide, along with 365 more that had been scheduled for Sunday.

Commercial air traffic within the United States and into or out of the country accounted for more than a quarter of all the cancelled flights over the weekend, FlightAware data showed.

Australia to shorten booster intervals as Omicron pushes cases to records

Booster shots will be offered from 4 January to everyone over 18 who had their second shot four months earlier and the interval will be again reduced to three months by the end of January.

"These dates have been set out of an abundance of caution to give Australians early continued protection," Hunt said during a media conference in Canberra.

Most states had been pressing the federal government to make more people eligible for boosters to stem the growing tide of Omicron cases. Authorities two weeks ago reduced the wait time to five months from six.

WHO urges cancelling some holiday events over Omicron fears

"An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled" said WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that "difficult decisions" must be made.

"In some cases, that will mean cancelling or delaying events" he said.

He added that there was now "consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than... Delta".

Pacific health experts planning for challenges Omicron could create in 2022

Dr Api Talemaitoga said he is sceptical the allocated government funding for Pacific-lead initiatives will be enough, with many providers running on the 'smell of an oily rag' already.

He said adequate funding will be the key to a strong community push to administer boosters and vaccinate children in the new year:

"The reason for that is just two doses of the pfizer vaccine doesn't give enough protection to people from Omicron," he said.