Ecuador mandates vaccines, Italy masks outdoors as Omicron rages

Ecuador mandates vaccines, Italy masks outdoors as Omicron rages

Italy has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors as Greece orders wearing of face masks both indoors and outdoors during the holidays.

Italy has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors and Ecuador made vaccines compulsory for nearly all to combat coronavirus infections surging globally, led by the Omicron variant, days before the Christmas holidays.

More stringent than most, China shut down a city of 13 million people to extinguish a tiny Delta variant outbreak, pursuing its zero COVID-19 goal, while Spain will require masks in some outdoor settings.

Meanwhile, France and the United Kingdom announced record highs of COVID-19 daily infections.

Vaccination has also been made mandatory in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Micronesia and New Caledonia for adults, while Greece said people must wear face masks both indoors and outdoors during Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.

Here are the latest updates for Friday:


55 people test positive for COVID on US cruise ship

Fifty-five people have tested positive for COVID-19 on board a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship that set sail Saturday from the southeastern US state of Florida, the company said.

The infections on the ship, the Odyssey of the Seas, involved passengers and crew members, even though 95 percent of the people on board were vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The vessel will remain at sea until it returns to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 26. It is carrying 3,587 passengers and 1,599 crew members, according to the USA Today newspaper.


Montenegro’s president tests positive for COVID-19

Montenegro’s president, Milo Djukanovic, has tested positive for COVID-19 after being in contact with an infected person.

“The president has mild symptoms and feels well. In line with epidemiological measures he will remain in self-isolation from where he will perform his regular presidential duties,” his office said in a statement on Thursday.

So far, 161,944 people in Montenegro — with a population of only 620,000 — have fallen ill from the coronavirus and 2,385 people have died.


Many Americans continue with holiday travel plans despite Omicron

Millions of Americans are pushing ahead with holidays that include cross-country flights, busy tourist attractions, and indoor dining — even as the surge in COVID-19 infections, fuelled by the Omicron variant, forces them to adapt plans on the fly.

While people scramble for COVID-19 tests and weigh varying public health guidance about how to gather safely for a second Christmas marked by the pandemic, many showed they were willing to brave the latest surge to enjoy holiday traditions such as worshipping and eating out.

The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday screened 2,081,297 passengers through the nation’s airports, an increase of 144,000 over the number of travellers it screened pre-pandemic on the same date in 2019.


Spain’s Catalonia imposes nighttime curfew to stem surging cases

The northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia won court approval for a night curfew on Thursday as Madrid pledged to distribute millions of more test kits to tackle the Omicron variant that is driving up infections and overshadowing Christmas.

Spain lifted most COVID-19 restrictions over their summer — thanks to a high vaccination rate that suppressed infection — but Omicron’s arrival has sent daily cases soaring to a record of more than 72,900 on Thursday.

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