(Reuters) - Europe crossed 75 million coronavirus cases according to a Reuters tally, as the region braces for the new Omicron variant at a time when hospitals in some countries are already strained by the current surge.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa is being hit by a fourth wave of infections driven by the new variant which has been detected in seven of the country's nine provinces, its health minister said.
* A rise in the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England in the latest week was driven by the dominant Delta variant rather than Omicron, Britain's Office for National Statistics said.
* The Irish government announced strict new limits on the hospitality sector and home visits as it moved to push down COVID-19 infection rates after officials warned the new Omicron variant was likely to add to pressure on the health service.
* Russia's COVID-19 death toll has reached at least 578,020, the third worst in the world, according to Reuters calculations based on official statistics for October, the country's deadliest month so far.
* Greece will offer all adults COVID-19 booster shots three months after they have had their second vaccine shot or tested positive for the virus, down from six months now, to help protect them from the emergent Omicron variant, officials said.
* Dutch health authorities said they were worried some passengers arriving from South Africa in the past week were testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival despite having been vaccinated and testing negative before their flight departure.
* Missouri has detected its first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a resident of St. Louis who had recently traveled domestically, according to the state health department.
* Canada has discovered a total of 12 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and severe illness trends across the country could start to rise again, public health officials said.
* A Philadelphia man in his 30s has tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, city health officials said, the first reported case in Pennsylvania.
* A sixth U.S. state - Nebraska - reported the Omicron variant of the coronavirus after detecting six confirmed cases of the highly contagious strain, the state's health department said.
* Malaysia and Sri Lanka reported their first Omicron cases.
* Gennady Golovkin's world title fight against Ryota Murata in Japan has been postponed due to the spread of the new variant.
* The Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus - possibly one that causes the common cold - present in the same infected cells, according to researchers.
* The U.S. FDA authorized the use of Eli Lilly's COVID-19 dual-antibody therapy in treating mild to moderate symptoms in all children, including newborns, who are at risk of severe illness.
* COVID-19 vaccine makers have contingency plans to deal with the Omicron variant that include a combination vaccine against the original version and the variant as well as a variant-specific booster dose, a top U.S. health official said.
* Global equities and benchmark U.S. bond yields tumbled in volatile trade after data showed U.S. job growth slowed considerably in November and the Omicron variant of the coronavirus kept investors on edge. [MKTS/GLOB]
(Compiled by Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)