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The world responds to the Omicron surge

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, people line up for COVID-19 tests in Xi'an in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province. Source: Xinhua

France is tightening its COVID-19 restrictions in an effort to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continue to rise in the United Kingdom. Americans who test positive for COVID-19 and are required to isolate will now only have to do so for five, instead of 10 days.

The United States' Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is reducing the recommended time, but only for people who are asymptomatic. 

Those who have received a booster vaccine will not be required to quarantine but are being advised to wear a mask 10 days after exposure. 

Meanwhile in Washington,United States President Joe Biden says the federal government is prepared to provide full support to US states facing surges in the more transmissible Omicron variant through the use of of at-home tests. 

It comes as many have been forced to endure long testing lines in the lead up to the holiday season.

Mr Biden says 500 million rapid tests will become available to Americans beginning next month. 

"We went from no over-the-counter tests in January to 46 million in October, 100 million in November and almost 200 million in December. But it's not enough. It's clearly not enough. If we'd known we would have gotten harder quicker if we could have."

In Europe, Greece is extending its mask mandate until at least mid January. The measures were set to last until at least January the 3rd and will apply to outdoor and all public areas, along with supermarkets and public transport.

Hospitality venues will also be required to close at midnight each night, with seating and social distancing limits. 

Greek health minister Thanos Plevris spoke about the masking requirements.  

"From the 3rd of January to the 16th of January 2022, with a possible extension if deemed necessary, the following measures will apply nationwide: A mandatory use of higher protection masks, the so-called K-N-95 or F-F-P-2, or alternatively a double surgical or textile mask."

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to this information in Punjabi.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://www.sbs.com.au/language/coronavirus

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