Many countries still not sequencing Omicron: WHO chief scientist
Chief scientist of the World Health Organization Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Wednesday said many countries are still not sequencing Omicron while the variant of SARS-CoV-2 is becoming the dominant Covid variant worldwide. According to data, Omicron, the variant first identified in South Africa, has spread to 139 countries. Over 4.70 lakh cases and 108 deaths have been recorded across the world, with the United Kingdom leading the chart with maximum cases. Next are Denmark, the United States, Germany, Canada, Norway, Australia etc. Though there has been a sharp surge in the number of cases across countries, hospitalisations remained relatively lower as compared to earlier surges.
The mapping of the global share of Omicron cases, analysed by Global Health Strategies, shows there is no data available from countries in Africa and the middle-east regarding Omicron.
Omicron has already overtaken Delta in the US, UK. India is not among the top 10 countries in the number of overall Omicron cases, but the variant is causing rapid spread of the infection. In cities, Omicron is the dominant variant, experts have confirmed.
India has also confirmed technically the country's first death linked to Omicron -- a 73-year-old man who died in a Udaipur hospital on December 31. Health ministry officials said the man had comorbidities but as his genome-sequencing report came before his death, this is technically the first Omicron-related death of the country.
The life expectancy of Chinese citizens now stands at 77.93 years and is within the category of upper-middle-income countries, the national health commission, said on Tuesday. The life expectancy of Chinese citizens had risen to 77.3 years in 2019, compared with 35 years in 1949, the beginning of the Communist Party of China's rule, according to a white paper released last year. According to World Bank data, India's life expectancy stood at 70 in 2020.
Hindu groups in Canada have complained to the country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are also exploring legal options over the poster of a film screened in Toronto on Sunday that they deem offensive. The film, Kaali, made by Leena Manimekalai, was shown at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto as part of a multimedia storytelling project, Under the Tent. The community was upset over the poster depicting Goddess Kali smoking a cigarette.
Heavy rains have battered the eastern coast of Australia, resulting in floods across Sydney and other parts of New South Wales province. Nearly 50,000 residents across the state have been told to either evacuate or warned about evacuation order from the authorities, Reuters reported. Due to floods, more than 19,000 homes are facing power cuts, AFP reported. Hundreds of homes have been inundated in and around Sydney in the flood emergency, Reuters reported.
A teacher and a man in his 70s who had travelled from Mexico to visit his family were among the six people shot dead in Chicago's wealthy Highland Park suburb late Monday night after yet another horrific mass shooting incident in the United States. A 'person of interest' - Robert E Crimo III - was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and a high-powered rifle was recovered.
The competition between the US and China to explore outer space turned prickly after Chinese diplomats blasted the head of NASA and encouraged neighboring countries to support Beijing's plan for exploring the moon. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday accused NASA Administrator Bill Nelson of lying “through his teeth” in response to reported comments in a German tabloid about the space competition between the two countries.