Coronavirus: Latest Global Developments

People wearing face masks walk at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo on 19 January, 2022, as Japan's government approved new coronavirus restrictions to battle record infections fuelled by the Omicron variant. (AFP Photo)

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

Japan's New Restrictions 

Japan brings in new restrictions – particularly on nightlife – in a large part of the country including Tokyo as it battles a record wave of Omicron infections.

Americans Get 400m Free Masks 

The United States (US) government is to distribute some 400 million high-quality N95 masks for free to its citizen in an effort to rein in the pandemic.

Supreme Court Judge Defiant 

US Supreme Court judge Neil Gorsuch is reportedly refusing to wear a mask at hearings. The conservative justice was appointed by Donald Trump.

Xi'an Lockdown Eased 

The Chinese city of X'ian partially reopens public transport after its 13 million residents were confined to their homes for weeks.

Germany's 112,000 Cases 

Europe's biggest economy registers a record 112,323 new cases in 24 hours but it is still well short of neighbouring France, which records four times as many.

UK MP Defects To Opposition Over Lockdown Parties 

A British Conservative MP defects to the opposition Labour party over the lockdown-breaching "partygate" revelations that have engulfed Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Thief Steals 42,000 Tests 

A thief got away with 42,000 much sought-after rapid antigen tests from a freight depot in Sydney, Australia.

First Africa Jab Plant 

South Africa-born biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong opens Africa's first start-to-finish COVID vaccine plant in Cape Town.

Solomon Islands Lockdown 

The Solomon Islands' capital begins a snap 60-hour lockdown after a single case is detected in the Pacific archipelago.

Tennis Vaccine Mandate Call 

Former tennis world number one Victoria Azarenka wants a no-jab, no play rule on the women's tour as the sport wrestles with the fall-out from the Novak Djokovic saga.

Lockdown Date Couple To Wed 

A Chinese couple who got stuck on a date because of a lockdown are to tie the knot. The pair were meeting for the second time in the city of Xianyang when a spike in cases meant the woman could not return home.

Massive Traffic Jam 

Some 2,000 trucks are backed up at Argentina's main border crossing with Chile due to tougher COVID-19 testing requirements.

US$300 Million Donations 

The Gates Foundation and British biomedical charity Wellcome pledge US$150 million each to the fight against COVID-19 and to prepare for future pandemics, with Wellcome saying "none of us believe Omicron will be the last variant".

Messi Back In Training 

Argentina football megastar Lionel Messi is back in full training with Paris Saint-Germain for the first time since testing positive at the end of last year.

Kiwi Tour Of Oz Off 

New Zealand Cricket calls off its tour of Australia 11 days before the first scheduled match because of strict quarantine requirements.

More Than 5.5 Million Dead 

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,553,124 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Wednesday.

The US has recorded the most COVID deaths with 854,074, followed by Brazil with 621,517, India on 487,202 and Russia 323,376.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.