The number of daily new COVID-19 cases worldwide has crossed one million for the first time since infections were first recorded two years ago.
New infections in the US have soared to their highest level on record, largely driven by the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.
Australia also hit a new record on Thursday as it narrowed its definition of close contacts of coronavirus cases and relaxed requirements for COVID-19 tests, in a bid to relieve pressure on testing sites.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of ‘tsunami’ of COVID cases in the near future due to Omicron spread.
The WHO further warned of the risk posed by the Omicron variant after COVID-19 case numbers shot up by 11 percent globally last week.
Omicron is behind the rapid virus spikes, the WHO said in its COVID weekly epidemiological update on Wednesday.
The update came after a number of countries reported record-high infection figures in recent days.
In some parts, the increase has been compounded by the emergence of the new Omicron variant. Omicron was first detected in South Africa.
Belgium will close cinemas, theatres and other indoor recreational activities as the Omicron spreads.
Museums, libraries and fitness centres will be able to stay open. The Belgian government is also urging people to undergo a test ahead of the holidays.
Spain will make mask-wearing outdoors mandatory once again, with the prime minister set to pass a law by decree.
The country reported record-high COVID-19 infections as the Omicron variant takes hold.
Germany will limit private gatherings to 10 people and close nightclubs ahead of the new year. This came as the country faces a “massive fifth wave” of COVID-19 due to Omicron.
Large events such as football matches will be held without an audience as part of new restrictions that will come into effect on 28 December.
Portugal announced new restrictions over Christmas and the New Year. Working from home will become mandatory.