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More lockdowns called as world nervously watches Omicron's spread 

A healthcare worker conducts a PCR Covid-19 test at the Lancet laboratory in Johannesburg on November 30, 2021.
A healthcare worker conducts a PCR Covid-19 test at the Lancet laboratory in Johannesburg on November 30, 2021.

Berlin: Signs were growing on Tuesday that lockdowns could very well be the order of the day as the world heads into 2022, with fear of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus growing and more jurisdictions slapping down movement restrictions.

In Germany, which has been wary about a new lockdown, politicians might have found some resolve after the country's top court ruled that its last round of lockdowns, earlier this year, were legal.

And in Brazil, more than half a dozen cities have either canceled or declined to plan their traditional New Year's Eve parties due to the coronavirus pandemic, local media reported late on Monday.

Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte and Florianopolis are among the cities, and the possibility of a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths from the new Omicron variant contributed to the decisions,according to news outlet G1.

Australia also announced that it would delay the reopening of its borders to vaccinated skilled workers, international students andother visa holders, which was set for Wednesday, due to the emergingcoronavirus Omicron variant.

"The National Security Committee has taken the necessary and temporary decision to pause the next step to safely reopen Australiato international skilled and student cohorts, as well ashumanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visaholders from 1 December until 15 December," a Monday evening statement by the Canberra government said.

"The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December."

The government said the "temporary pause" would allow the country time to gather the information it needed "to better understand the omicron variant."

The focus on Omicron has highlighted the need to vaccinate parts ofthe developing world where rates have lagged.

India on Tuesday offered to supply Covid-19 vaccines, life-saving drugs and other equipment to African countries to help deal with theOmicron Covid-19 variant.

The government was ready to supply Indian-made vaccines through the coax vaccine sharing initiative or bilaterally, India's Ministry ofExternal Affairs said in a late night statement on Monday.

All orders from African countries through COVAX had been cleared and further orders would be considered on priority, the statement said.

India had so far supplied 25 million doses of vaccines to 41countries in Africa of which 1 million doses were given free of costto 16 countries and another 16 million doses to 33 countries underthe COVAX facility.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday classified Omicron,which was first detected in southern Africa, as a variant of concernand on Monday said the global risk from it was "very high.

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