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Coronavirus live: 1 in 25 people in England had Covid last week; South Africa says Omicron wave has passed

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland around 1 in 40 people tested positive; UK medicines regulator approves Covid pill

  • South Africa says Omicron-fuelled fourth Covid wave has passed
  • UK must be poised to introduce swift Covid curbs, says NHS leader
  • UK PM Boris Johnson says UK doing ‘incomparably better’ against Covid
  • Germany, Italy and Portugal to relax isolation, Spain to cut quarantine
  • See all our coronavirus coverage

South Korea said on Friday it will extend stricter social distancing rules for two weeks amid a persistent surge in serious coronavirus infections and concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant.

The government reinstated the curbs on 18 December, six weeks after easing them under a “living with Covid-19” scheme, as record-breaking numbers of new infections and serious cases put a huge strain on the country’s medical system.

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