Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus
* The WTO became the first major diplomatic casualty of the new coronavirus variant when it postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years due to the deteriorating health situation, Geneva-based sources said.
* EU states have agreed to suspend travel from southern Africa after the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, named by the WHO as Omicron.
* The Dutch government ordered further restrictions including a night-time closure of bars, restaurants and most stores to stem a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.
* Ireland will make booster shots available to all adults.
* US President Joe Biden said his administration was not considering new vaccine mandates following the discovery of the Omicron variant.
* The United States will bar entry to most travellers from eight southern African countries beginning next week over concerns about the new strain.
* Canada is closing its borders to foreign travellers who have recently been to seven southern African nations, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters.
* France has postponed implementing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health workers in Martinique and Guadeloupe after the measure spurred widespread protests on the French territories.
* Hong Kong was among the first places to identify a case of the new variant outside South Africa and issued a travel-ban for non-residents arriving from eight southern African states.
* India restarted exports of vaccines to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX for the first time since April.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa said imposing restrictions on travellers from the country because of a newly identified COVID-19 variant was unjustified.
* Egypt, Iran, the UAE and Israel have all suspended entry for travellers from southern Africa.
* South Africa's rand sank to its lowest level since October 2020 and its president will convene a coronavirus council on Sunday.
* Novavax said it had started working on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the variant detected in South Africa and would have the shot ready for testing and manufacturing in the next few weeks.
* AstraZeneca said it was examining the impact of Omicron on its vaccine and its antibody cocktail, adding it was hopeful its combination drug would retain efficacy.
* Merck said updated data from its study of its experimental COVID-19 pill showed the drug was significantly less effective in cutting hospitalisations and deaths than previously reported.
* BioNTech said it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer would have to be reworked.
* Shares tumbled on Wall Street on Friday as they reopened after Thanksgiving, while European stocks saw their biggest sell-off in 17 months and oil prices plunged by $US10 per barrel.
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