UK PM faces more COVID lockdown party revelations: Live | Coronavirus pandemic

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing yet more allegations of his office holding “boozy parties” while everyone else in the country was unable to mix because of strict rules on social distancing.

US President Joe Biden says his administration will procure 500 million more rapid COVID-19 tests to better tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.

French teachers have gone on strike over their government’s “chaotic” virus strategy for schools.

Here are the latest updates:

‘Alarm’ in China at latest outbreak

Al Jazeera’s Britt Clennett, reporting from Hong Kong, says there is growing “alarm” in China about the latest coronavirus outbreak.

The country confirmed 201 new cases for January 13, up from 190 a day earlier. Authorities also reported 42 asymptomatic cases, which China does not report among its confirmed cases.

Clennett says the concern is that cases from Tianjin, just 30 minutes by train from Beijing, could spread to the capital just as it is preparing to host the Winter Olympics. She says authorities are “taking no chances” and have ramped up checks on travellers to the capital.

Omicron set to become dominant in South Korea

Omicron is set to become the dominant variant in South Korea, with officials keeping a close eye on the spread of the virus ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year.

“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly especially from last week and is on the verge of becoming the dominant variant as it accounted for 20 percent of domestic cases two days ago,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during a COVID-19 response meeting, according to Yonhap news agency.

“I request people to restrain from their hometown visits and meetings with relatives and families during the Lunar New Year holiday period.”

While the government is extending health curbs until February 6 given the concerns, it says it will also relax the rules slightly so that six fully vaccinated people can attend private gatherings rather than four. A 9pm curfew on restaurants, cafes and bars will continue.

Three people wearing masks silhouetted against the sky on a cold morning in SeoulPeople wearing masks take a walk on a cold winter’s day at a Han river park in Seoul [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

Philippines to extend COVID-19 curbs until January 31

The Philippines’s coronavirus task force plans to extend movement curbs in the area around Manila and other provinces until the end of January, according to acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

The Southeast Asian nation is battling its biggest-ever surge in COVID-19 cases.

Online and physical classes at all public and private schools in Manila began a one-week suspension on Friday.

Australia’s NSW reports record deaths, says hospital admissions to peak next week

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for a third day.

The state reported 29 of the 56 deaths announced in Australia on Friday.

The surge in Omicron cases is putting pressure on hospitals, but health officials say they expect admissions to reach their peak next week.

The state’s Health Deputy Secretary, Susan Pearce, told the media the number…

Read More: UK PM faces more COVID lockdown party revelations: Live | Coronavirus pandemic

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