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South Africa entering fourth Covid wave, says health minister.

South Africa is entering its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections due to the Omicron variant, South African health minister Joe Phaahla has said.

Mr Phaahla told a media briefing that infections with the new variant were now present in seven out of the country’s nine provinces, and hoped that the variant could be managed without causing too many deaths.

He said hospitals were not under threat at this stage but urged South Africans to be fully vaccinated, saying that was the best protection against Omicron.

In the United States, New York has confirmed five cases of the Omicron variant, its governor said on Thursday, bringing to five the number of US states having detected the variant, with 10 reported infections nationwide.

California, Colorado and Minnesota have found cases of the variant among patients who were fully vaccinated and developed mild symptoms, while Hawaii reported a case with an unvaccinated person, who had moderate symptoms.

New York governor Kathy Hochul told a news conference one of the state’s cases involved a 67-year-old Long Island woman with mild symptoms of a headache and cough who had recently returned from South Africa.

She had “some vaccination history” but it wasn’t yet clear if she had received one or two doses or a booster shot, Hochul said.

The other four people were New York City residents but further information was not yet available, the governor said.

The Minnesota patient is the first known US case of community transmission of the Omicron variant, found in a fully vaccinated man who had recently travelled to New York City and attended a conference.

Hawaii on Thursday also confirmed a case of community spread. The infected person, who had no history of travel, had previously had Covid-19, the Department of Health said.

To combat the spread of Omicron, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new testing requirements for international travellers and promised in the coming weeks that Americans would have access to free, rapid at-home Covid-19 testing.

Colorado health officials on Thursday said a woman with the Omicron variant had recently returned from a trip to southern Africa.

California on Wednesday reported the first US case of the variant in a fully vaccinated traveller who had been in South Africa. Los Angeles County on Thursday confirmed California’s second case of the variant.

Scientists are investigating Omicron, which has been labelled as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, to see if it is more transmissible than the Delta variant that is now prevalent and if it causes more severe disease. They are also studying how well current vaccines work against it.

On Friday, Malaysian health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the country detected its first case of the Omicron variant.

It was detected in a foreign visitor from South Africa who arrived in Malaysia via Singapore on November 19th, he said.

Sri Lanka’s health authorities on Friday also said they have identified the first Omicron patient in the country.

The Health Ministry said the new COVID-19 variant was identified in a Sri Lankan national who had recently returned from South Africa. – Reuters

Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ singer, has died at 74.

Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ singer, has died at 74.

Meat Loaf, the larger-than-life singer whose 1977 record "Bat Out of Hell" is one of the best-selling albums of all time, has died at age 74, according to a statement on his verified Facebook page. #CNN #News

How are kids holding up in the coronavirus pandemic? - COVID-19 Special.

How are kids holding up in the coronavirus pandemic? - COVID-19 Special.

The closure of daycare centers and schools during coronavirus lockdowns has led to many children experiencing psychological issues and falling behind. A new study indicates there is no need to close daycare centers, but opening schools remains con...

Concha: The public sees Biden as incompetent

Concha: The public sees Biden as incompetent

Fox News contributor Joe Concha weighs in after TIME magazine depicted President Biden under a storm cloud with a headline that says the administration 'lost its way.' He then weighs in on media's poor coverage of the murdered UCLA grad student. #...

LIVE: Latest news, breaking stories and analysis on January 21 - CBSN.

LIVE: Latest news, breaking stories and analysis on January 21 - CBSN.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he believes U.S. and Russia “are on a clearer path to understanding each others’ concerns” after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Ukraine crisis, the Supreme Court declines to sp...

Hear from Tonga's 'Aquaman' who survived 27 hours at sea.

Hear from Tonga's 'Aquaman' who survived 27 hours at sea.

A 57-year-old Tongan man is being hailed a real-life Aquaman after surviving 27 hours at sea when Saturday's devastating tsunami struck his island. CNN’s Michael Holmes has his story and a conversation with the speaker of the Tonga Legislative Ass...

17 Killed, 59 Injured in Western Ghana Explosion

17 Killed, 59 Injured in Western Ghana Explosion

️ People inspect the damage after a truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle in western Ghana, causing an immense conflagration and killing multiple people. The accident happened in Apiate, near the city of Bogoso, some 300 kilometers ...