The cumulative total of global COVID-19 cases surpassed 298 million, with the death toll exceeding 5.4 million as of Friday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Specifically, there had been 298,915,721 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,469,303 deaths as of 17:08 Central European Time (CET) on Friday, the WHO’s COVID-19 dashboard showed.
A total of 9,118,223,397 vaccine doses had been administered across the world as of Tuesday, according to the dashboard.
The United States on Friday reported a cumulative total of 57,535,858 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 826,022 deaths, both the highest in the world, the WHO dashboard showed.
WHO data also showed that India is the second worst-affected country, with 35,226,386 confirmed cases. It is followed by Brazil with 22,351,104 cases and the world’s second highest death toll of 619,513.
Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, on Friday said that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and has been detected in any region where there is complete viral gene sequencing capability. In some countries and regions, Omicron is replacing Delta as the dominant variant of infection.
Britain reported another 178,250 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 14,193,228, according to official figures released on Friday.
The country also reported a further 229 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 149,744, with 18,454 COVID-19 patients still hospitalized.
Some 200 Armed Forces personnel are being deployed to support the National Health Service (NHS) in London as hospitals are grappling with staff shortages, according to Sky News.
More than 90 percent of people aged 12 and above in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 82 percent have received two doses, according to the latest figures. More than 61 percent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
France reported more than 328,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period, marking the second time that the country registered more than 300,000 new cases in a single day since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to statistics released on Friday by the French Public Health Agency.
Another 193 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported during the same period. As of Friday, France registered a total of 11.51 million confirmed cases and more than 125,000 deaths.
According to a Reuters report on Friday, Alain Fischer, who orchestrated France’s vaccination strategy, said that France is approaching the peak of the current round of pandemic, which could “appear in the beginning of the third week of January”.
Italy reported more than 108,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24-hour period, bringing the total caseload to over 7.08 million, said the Italian Ministry of Health on Friday.
The country reported a further 223 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the death toll to more than 138,000.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the Federal Chancellery said, adding that he was infected by a member of his security team.
Nehammer shows no symptoms and carries out his official duties from home via video and telephone meetings. He will not attend in-person meetings in the next few days, the Chancellery said, adding that Nehammer has received three COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The country has seen a surge in new COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the new year. According to statistics from the Austrian Ministry of Health, the country reported more than 8,700 new cases on Friday, with a total caseload of more than 1.25 million and 13,830 deaths.
Austria has been enforcing a lockdown for the unvaccinated in an attempt to stem the surge of coronavirus.
The pandemic situation in Japan has deteriorated rapidly since the beginning of the new year. According to NHK statistics, the country reported 6,214 new confirmed cases on Friday, which is the first time that the country registers more than 6,000 new cases in a single day since Sept 15 last year.
Japan registered nearly 1.75 million confirmed cases and 18,399 deaths with one more death being reported on Friday.
On Friday, Tokyo reported 922 new cases, while Osaka Prefecture reported 676 new cases, both the highest in the last more than three months.
Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, on Friday announced that it would expand requirements for the application of the “vaccination passport” in response to the surge in confirmed case caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The municipal government of Sao Paulo started to enforce a “vaccination passport” policy on Sept 1, 2020, requiring local residents to present proof of receiving at least one dose of COIVD-19 vaccine when attending a public event involving more than 500 people.
The new regulations require that residents have to get vaccinated with at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines to enter certain public places, and that they must show vaccination proof before attending parties or entering places such as dance halls and clubs, regardless of how many people attend the events.
The city on Thursday canceled Carnival street parades following an increase in infections and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant.
Argentina reported 110,533 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24-hour period, the highest number ever recorded in the country in a single day, according to data released on Friday by the Ministry of Health. The country has recorded more than 100,000 new cases in a single day for two consecutive days.
As of Friday, Argentina registered a total of 6.13 million confirmed cases and over 117,000 deaths with 42 new deaths being reported during the past 24-hour period.
Experts said that the peak of the current round of pandemic in the country could come in mid-to-late January, with a possible maximum of 250,000 new cases being reported in a single day.