What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective face masks are pictured at a train station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato
FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective face masks are pictured at a train station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Tokyo, Osaka record most COVID-19 cases in 4 months

Japan recorded a surge in new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with infections reaching four-month highs in the major metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Osaka as the Omicron variant spreads.

New cases totalled 2,198 in the capital Tokyo, while the western prefecture of Osaka recorded 1,711, nearly tripling from the day before. Those marked the highest levels since early September.

Russia prepares new measures as Omicron cases near 700

Russia has so far recorded 698 cases of the Omicron variant and will prepare new measures by the end of the week to combat its spread, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Wednesday.

Omicron has pushed COVID-19 case figures to record highs in parts of western Europe and the United States but the variant has been slower to hit Russia, where daily COVID cases have fallen from a peak of 41,335 registered in early November.

U.S. to increase COVID-19 tests for schools by 10 mln per month

The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a new set of measures to keep schools open, including increasing access to COVID-19 tests.

The United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, the highest daily total for any country in the world. Omicron was estimated to account for 98.3% of total new coronavirus cases circulating in the country as of Jan. 8, the CDC said Tuesday.

China's Omicron-hit Tianjin launches new tests

The Chinese port city of Tianjin began a new round of testing of its 14 million residents on Wednesday to contain the Omicron variant, as analysts warned of the growing economic costs to China of curbs to extinguish clusters of coronavirus infections.

Japanese automaker Toyota said operations at its joint-venture in Tianjin, which has annual production capacity of 620,000 vehicles, had been halted since Monday due to the impact on suppliers of mandatory COVID-19 testing of city residents.

Indonesia rolls out booster shots

Indonesia kicked off its COVID-19 booster programme for the general public on Wednesday, as the world's fourth-most-populous nation hit an almost three-month high in cases.

Elderly and immunocompromised residents, who are being prioritised in the programme, queued up at local health centres to boost their defences against a virus that has infected more than 4 million Indonesians.

Bulgaria's daily infections at record high

Daily coronavirus infections in Bulgaria reached a record high of 7,062 on Wednesday, largely fuelled by Omicron, official data showed.

New cases, on the rise since the beginning of the year, surpassed a previous peak set in late October, when the European Union's least vaccinated member state grappled with the Delta variant.

Swiss halve quarantine period to five days

Switzerland will halve its quarantine time to five days to help cope with a wave of infections that threatens to hamstring the economy, the government said on Wednesday.

Health authorities had given their blessing on Tuesday for the move, which comes as tens of thousands more people get infected every day due to the Omicron variant.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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