(Reuters) - COVID-19 will stifle New Year celebrations around the world for the second year running on Friday, with governments in many countries hurriedly scaling back festivities in an effort to contain rampant contagion, as global infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period.
* Russia has now confirmed 103 cases of the Omicron variant, Anna Popova, the head of state consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said in an interview on state television.
* Italy on Wednesday scrapped self-isolation rules for those coming into contact with someone testing positive providing they have either had a booster shot, recently recovered or been vaccinated.
* Bosnia has identified its first 10 Omicron infections and there are likely more, with the highly transmissible variant expected to become dominant in the next couple of months, health officials said on Wednesday.
* Within weeks, the Omicron variant has fuelled thousands of new hospitalisations among U.S. children, raising new concerns about how the many unvaccinated Americans under the age of 18 will fare in the new surge.
* Top U.S. infectious disease adviser Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday the surge in the Omicron variant in the United States was likely to peak by the end of January.
* Mexico authorised the Cuban-made COVID-19 vaccine Abdala for emergency use, even though the shot has still not been approved by the World Health Organization.
* Indian authorities started to impose stringent rules on Thursday to prevent mass gatherings at parties and public venues ahead of new year celebrations as the nation sees a spike in infections.
* Australia sought to relieve pressure on overrun testing facilities by narrowing its definition of close contacts of infected people and relaxing requirements for tests, as daily cases topped 20,000 for the first time.
* The Chinese city of Xian reported on Thursday another 155 local cases, taking the total number to the highest seen in any Chinese city this year, as infections keep spreading eight days into a lockdown.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Turkey began administering its domestically developed vaccine, Turkovac, at hospitals across the country, amid a rapid surge in infections.
* A booster dose of Johnson & Johnson Inc's single-dose vaccine was 84% effective at preventing hospitalisation in South African healthcare workers who became infected, researchers said.
* Approval of a third vaccine dose for U.S. children aged 12-15 could be days or weeks away, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN in an interview on Wednesday.
* A key part of the immune system's second-line defence, its T-cells, are highly effective at recognising and attacking the Omicron variant, thereby preventing most infections from progressing to critical illness, a new study shows.
* A seven day rally in world stocks ran out of steam on Thursday as the spread of Omicron worldwide clouded bumper year-to-date gains, dented oil prices and boosted the dollar.
* The dollar rose against major rival currencies in holiday-thinned trading, as investors remained cautiously optimistic about the economic consequences of a surge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
* Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology, two of the world's largest memory chip makers, warned that strict curbs in the Chinese city of Xian could disrupt their chip manufacturing bases in the area.
(Compiled by Marta Frackowiak and Devika Syamnath; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta, Milla Nissi and Alex Richardson)