Live updates: Israeli PM warns of upcoming COVID-19 ‘storm’


JERUSALEM – The Israeli Prime Minister warns that the country will soon see tens of thousands of new cases of coronavirus a day.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. He said that despite the deployment of more than 4.2 million coronavirus booster vaccines to the country’s 9.3 million population since July, “the storm is upon us these days.”

Daily cases in Israel rose from around 700 to more than 4,000 in the past two weeks on Sunday.

“These are numbers the world doesn’t know and neither do we,” Bennett said.

He said the government’s goal is to “allow the economy to function as much as possible, while protecting the most vulnerable among us.”

Israel has recorded at least 8,244 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.



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– Dozens of US colleges and universities are returning to online courses


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LONDON – High school students in England will be required to wear face masks when they return to class after the Christmas break.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday the move was an attempt to “minimize disruption” to schools as the highly transmissible variant of omicron is driving coronavirus infections in the UK to levels records.

Similar mask guidelines for pupils aged 11 and over were already in place for schools in Scotland and Wales.

Students and teachers are expected to return to class on Tuesday after more than two weeks off, during which Britain’s daily case count reached 189,000 on December 31.

The government has urged schools and other public sector workplaces to prepare for staff absences as COVID-19 is making more people sick or forcing them to self-isolate.


PARIS – Unvaccinated people from the United States will be required to self-isolate in France for 10 days under the supervision of local authorities in accordance with new government restrictions that take effect on Sunday.

All passengers arriving from the United States must provide a negative COVID-19 test – a PCR or an antigen test – not older than 48 hours in addition to proof of vaccination before boarding a flight for France.

Unvaccinated travelers from the United States previously had to self-quarantine unattended for seven days.

New cases of COVID-19 in France have exceeded 200,000 for four consecutive days, fueled by the highly contagious variant of omicron.

French authorities are also stepping up pressure on unvaccinated residents. The government is pushing parliament to pass a law in the next two weeks that would only allow vaccinated residents to enter restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums and sports arenas.

France’s current “health pass” also allows access to people with proof of a negative test or who have recovered from COVID-19.

If the law is passed, the health pass would become a “vaccination pass” which would also be required on interregional trains and on domestic buses and flights.


AMSTERDAM – Thousands of people have defied a ban on gathering in an Amsterdam square for a protest against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures.

The municipality of the Dutch capital had banned the demonstration, saying that the police had indicated that some demonstrators could attend it “prepared for violence”.

But thousands of people flocked to the square on Sunday, with some displaying a banner reading “less repression, more care” near the Van Gogh Museum. A group of people in white overalls and white masks held up signs, including one that read: “This is not a virus, it is about control” on one side and “Freedom”. the other.

There was a strong police presence in the square and in the surrounding streets. The municipality has designated the area as a security risk region, a move that gave police the power to preemptively search people.


NEW DELHI – India has reported more than 27,000 new cases of COVID-19, Health Ministry data showed amid growing concerns over a potential new outbreak fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Sunday’s confirmed cases were the highest daily number since October. The country has also reported 284 deaths, bringing the total death toll in India from the pandemic to more than 481,000 people.

The country now has more than 1,500 confirmed cases of omicron, the highest number recorded in the western state of Maharashtra.

India plans to start immunizing children between the ages of 15 and 18 on Monday.

Various states have put in place a host of restrictions to reduce cases, including nighttime curfews, restricted seating in bars and restaurants, and bans on large public gatherings.


ATLANTA – Another of Georgia’s largest school districts has decided to virtually start 2022 classes due to the high number of COVID-19 cases.

Atlanta Public Schools have announced that students will be virtual when classes resume after winter break on Tuesday.

The district is also asking all teachers and other staff to report to their jobs for a mandatory COVID-19 test unless they are sick and will use this information for planning, the district said in a statement.

Currently, Atlanta schools are planning to resume normal classes on January 10.

Atlanta Schools join schools in Fulton County, Dekalb County, Clayton County and Rockdale County in a virtual comeback after Christmas.

Georgia’s two largest school districts – Gwinnett County and Cobb County – did not announce any changes regarding back to school in person on Saturday.


PARIS – French authorities announced on Saturday that children six and over will be required to wear masks in indoor places open to the public as new cases of the highly contagious variant of omicron surpass 200,000 for the fourth day in a row .

By lowering the age of children forced to wear masks from 11 to 6, the government hopes to avoid closing schools after the holidays. Classes resume Monday and young children will have to wear masks on public transport, in sports complexes and places of worship. The mask’s mandate extends to the outdoor spaces of cities such as Paris and Lyon, which have recently reintroduced the wearing of masks outdoors.

On the first day of the new year, France recorded 219,126 new infections, down slightly from the daily high of 232,200 recorded on the last day of 2021.

The French government is betting the fifth wave of the pandemic driven by the fast-spreading omicron variant can be tamed without reverting to economically damaging closures or curfews and without hospitals collapsing under increasing numbers of people seriously ill.

France has lost 123,000 people to COVID-19.


DALLAS – For air travelers, the New Year picked up where the old left off – with great frustration.

As of late Saturday morning on the East Coast, more than 2,400 flights in the United States and nearly 4,200 worldwide had been canceled, according to the FlightAware tracking service.

It is the highest one-day toll to date since just before Christmas, when airlines began to blame staff shortages on rising COVID-19 infections among crews. More than 12,000 US flights have been canceled since December 24.

However, Saturday’s disruptions weren’t just due to the virus. The wintry weather made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers, with 800 flights cleaned up at O’Hare Airport and over 250 at Midway Airport. The forecast was for nine inches of snow. Denver, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey, suffered at least 100 cancellations each.

Southwest Airlines, which has major operations in Chicago Midway and Denver, canceled more than 450 flights nationwide, or 13% of its schedule, by mid-morning. American, Delta, United and JetBlue have made more than 100 flights each.


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