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Omicron Reported in Japan's Fukuoka; France's COVID-19 Infections Top 100,000


Visitors wearing protective face masks walk under decorations for the New Year at Nakamise street leading to Senso-ji temple at Asakusa district, a popular sightseeing spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Dec. 24, 2021.

Japan's Fukuoka prefecture has confirmed its first infection with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, its governor Seitaro Hattori said Saturday.

The case was a result of possible community transmission as the infection route was unclear, Hattori told a news conference.

France recorded a record high of 104,611 COVID-19 infections Saturday, breaking the 100,000 threshold for the first time since the pandemic began as the omicron variant continued its rapid spread.

Health authorities said the number of COVID patients in intensive care went up by 28 to 3,282.

In the meantime, Israel has ordered 100,000 units of Pfizer Inc's anti-viral COVID 19 pill Paxlovid for people aged 12 and older at risk of severe illness, an Israeli official said on Saturday, confirming a television report.

Channel 12 TV said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett agreed the deal in a phone conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. There was no immediate confirmation from the company.

The first oral and at home treatment for COVID-19, Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness, according to data from Pfizer's clinical trial. Recent lab data suggests the drug retains effectiveness against the Omicron variant, it said.

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