Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
Omicron 'Dangerous' For Unjabbed
The Omicron variant is dangerous and especially so for those who have not been vaccinated, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.
Half Hospital Risk
People infected with Omicron are half as likely to be hospitalised and about 75 percent less likely to need intensive care compared to those with the Delta variant, a preliminary United States (US) study of nearly 70,000 people who tested positive finds.
Bolsonaro Herd Immunity Plan
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro downplays Omicron and defends the idea of herd immunity through widespread infection. The virus has claimed more than 620,000 lives in Brazil, the second highest toll in the world.
India Super Spreader Fear
Hundreds of thousands of Indian pilgrims pack an island in the Ganges River for the vast Gangasagar Mela religious festival, sparking fears of a super spreader event.
French Teachers Strike
Half of French schools close as up to three-quarters of teachers strike in protest at multiple changes to COVID rules in the classrooms in the space of a week.
Johnson Cancels Trip
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancels a trip to northern England after a relative comes down with COVID a day after he was forced to apologise over a lockdown-breaking party.
China Closes Hospitals
Two hospitals in China's locked-down city of Xi'an, including one that refused to treat an eight-month pregnant woman who later miscarried, are closed while they "rectify" mistakes.
Unjabbed Dad Loses Visiting Rights
An unvaccinated Canadian father "opposed to health measures" loses the right to visit his 12-year-old son until at least February after a Quebec judge rules his visits would not be in the child's "best interest".
Kanye, Eilish Top Coachella Bill
California music festival Coachella is to go ahead in April, headlined by Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Kanye West.
Top seed Kidambi Srikanth and six other players are forced to pull out of the India Open badminton championship in New Delhi after testing positive.
5.5 Million Dead
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,511,146 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Thursday.
The US has recorded the most COVID deaths with 843,624, followed by Brazil with 620,371, India on 485,035 and Russia 319,172.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to COVID-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.