Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Reuters) - Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases hobbled U.S. airline staff on Monday, causing hundreds of flight cancellations, and prompted the country's top infectious disease expert to suggest the government consider a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals for a case tracker and summary of news
* Greece on Monday announced further restrictions effective from Jan. 3-16 to contain a further upsurge in COVID-19 infections including the Omicron variant, targeting mainly night-time entertainment venues.
* Italy reported 142 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday against 81 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 30,810 from 24,883.
* Ireland on Friday reported its highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began but those requiring critical care fell further amid a rapid roll-out of booster vaccines.
* U.S. airlines canceled nearly 1,000 flights after grounding thousands of flights over the Christmas holiday weekend, hobbled by staff shortages from COVID-19 infections and bad weather in parts of the country.
* U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday pledged to ease a shortage of COVID-19 tests as the Omicron variant threatened to overwhelm hospitals and stifle travel plans as it spread across U.S. states this holiday week.
* India will start administering booster shots as a precautionary measure to healthcare and frontline workers from Jan. 10, as Omicron cases rose across the country.
* Australia reported its first confirmed death from the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Monday amid its biggest daily surge in infections, but the authorities refrained from imposing new restrictions saying hospitalisation rates remained low.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran has banned the entry of travellers from Britain, France, Denmark and Norway for 15 days.
* Omani authorities require foreign travellers aged 18 or older to have received at least two vaccine doses to enter the sultanate, the state news agency reported.
* The Palestinian health ministry said it had identified the first case of Omicron in the Gaza Strip.
* A major Israeli hospital will begin administering a fourth vaccine shot to 150 staff on Monday in a trial aimed at gauging whether a second booster is necessary nationwide.
* South Korea authorised for emergency use Pfizer's antiviral pills targeting COVID-19 as the first of its kind to be introduced in South Korea, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Monday.
* Global equity markets stocks rose and oil prices eased on Monday as flight cancellations over Christmas revived concerns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could slow the economy into 2022. [GLOBAL-MARKETS/]
* Oil prices rose more than 2% on Monday to the highest level since late November on hopes that the Omicron coronavirus variant will have a limited impact on global demand in 2022, even as surging cases caused flight cancellations.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Shinjini Ganguli; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta and Maju Samuel)
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