Macau bans flights; US army in Japan tightens COVID rules – Live

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s live blog on the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

A summary of the main developments:

  • More daily records have been broken, with France reporting more than 332,000 cases on Wednesday in a surge driven by the Omicron variant.
  • Macau is banning all international flights, while the US military in Japan is tightening COVID-19 rules amid a surge in cases at it bases
  • Novak Djokovic, the world’s top male tennis player, has been denied entry to Australia and is expected to be deported. The unvaccinated player said he had been granted a medical exemption so he could compete in the Australian Open.

Here are the latest updates:

US Forces Japan announces ‘more stringent measures’ amid virus surge

US Forces Japan says it is establishing “more stringent mitigation measures” to prevent COVID-19 transmissions at its bases in the country.

The measures include requiring US military personnel to wear masks while off base as well as stricter testing mandates.

Moves come amid a surge in infections in Okinawa, which is host to 70 percent of US military facilities in Japan. The prefecture leads the country in new infections and is considering imposing quasi-emergency measures.

The US military in Okinawa reported six new cases on Wednesday, down from a high of 235 on Sunday. A total of 3,868 cases have been reported by US Forces Japan, according to local media.

Macau bans international flights

Following Hong Kong’s lead, the Chinese territory of Macau has also announced a ban, albeit stricter, on inbound international passenger flights.

Macau’s Health Bureau said it will prohibit “civil aircraft from carrying passengers from places outside China to Macau” for two weeks starting midnight on Sunday.

Sebastian Korda tests positive for COVID-19 in Australia

US tennis player and world number 41 Sebastian Korda has tested positive for COVID-19 after landing in Australia.

Korda had already withdrawn from the Adelaide International, a warm-up event, but the world number 41 is in the main draw for the Australian Open.

“No symptoms and two negative results since testing positive,” he wrote on Twitter alongside a video of him hitting a ball against the hotel room wall.

“Thank you Tennis Australia for all the equipment!”

‘Stop counting cases’: Expert says focus needs to change

Lawrence Gostin, professor of medicine at Georgetown University in the United States, has just been speaking to Al Jazeera,

He says the world should stop focussing on the daily case count and turning to lockdowns to limit the spread of what is now a highly transmissible virus.

Governments should instead look to implement the measures that will keep people out of hospital should they catch COVID-19.

“Lockdowns and school closures are rapidly becoming a thing of the past – at least I think they should be,” Gostin said. “I have no objection to them as a temporary emergency measure, but I would be dismayed if went well into 2022 seeing countries locking down. That’s not the way to live with COVID-19. The best way is to vaccination, get enough anti-viral medicines and therapeutics and just keep people out of hospital because we are not going to stop COVID from spreading. We have got to stop counting cases and start preventing hospitalisation.”

CDC in United States recommends boosters for young people

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending young people between the ages of 12 and 17 get an additional shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”

The initiative covers about 10 million adolescents and teens.

Morrison says Djokovic didn’t have evidence for medical exemption

Scott Morrison has been talking about Australia’s move to bar entry to tennis star Novak Djokovic.

He told reporters at a press conference in Canberra that the Serb failed to provide enough evidence to secure a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccination.

“All I can say is that the evidence [for] medical exemption that was provided was found to be insufficient,” Morrison said, adding Djokovic had not been “singled out” for scrutiny.

Djokovic has been taken to a detention hotel pending his deportation.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra after Novak Djokovic was denied entry to the country [Lukas Coch/EPA]

Japan asks US to tighten COVID rules for bases

Japan has asked the United States to strengthen COVID-19 measures at its military sites, including restrictions on people leaving US bases, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Kyodo said the request was made during a phone call between Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Japan has been keeping COVID-19 in check, but the southern island of Okinawa, where there is a large US base, has emerged as a new hotspot.

Read all the updates from January 5 here.

Source: Thanks