The global coronavirus caseload has topped 261.46 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 5.19 million and vaccination to over 7.60 billion, with many countries enforcing new guidelines on international travel and testing over the concerns of new variant Omicron.
The new variant Omicron is believed to be more transmissible than the previous variants, a South African doctor who raised the alarm said and that it had unfamiliar symptoms from scratchy throat to fever but her patients recovered fully without hospitalisation.
Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told media that she had seen around 30 patients over the past 10 days who tested positive for Covid-19 but had these unfamiliar symptoms.
In its latest update on Monday morning, the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 261,460,688 and 5,199,456 respectively. And the total number of vaccine doses administered was 7,602,216,580.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 48,229,210 and 776,639, respectively according to the CSSE. The second worst-hit country in terms of cases is India (34,572,523 infections and 468,554 deaths), followed by Brazil (22,080,906 infections and 614,278 deaths).
The other worst countries with over 5 million cases are the UK (10,202,370), Russia (9,403,480), Turkey (8,748,025), France (7,723,032), Iran (6,108,882), Germany (5,804,139), Argentina (5,326,448), Spain (5,131,012) and Colombia (5,065,373), the CSSE figures showed.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Mexico (293,859), Russia (267,527), Peru (201,071), the UK (145,218), Indonesia (143,808), Italy (133,674), Iran (129,629), Colombia (128,437), France (119,875) and Argentina (116,529).
It is not yet clear whether the Omicron Covid-19 variant is more transmissible, or causes more severe disease compared to other variants, including Delta, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
It's not yet clear whether Omicron is more easily spread from person to person compared to other variants, even though the number of people testing positive has risen in South Africa where this variant was involved, the WHO on Sunday added.
It's also not yet clear whether Omicron causes more severe disease, but preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalisation in South Africa, which however may be due to the increasing overall number of people becoming infected, Xinhua news agency reported.