Authorities in Singapore are looking into an impromptu gathering of New Year’s Eve revellers in Clarke Quay, The Straits Times reported. The government task force managing the Covid-19 situation said the gathering “involved some blatant breaches of safe management rules and is a potential superspreading event”. The unauthorised party of hundreds – Singapore rules cap group sizes at just five – was widely shared on social media. In pictures and video, the crowd could be seen cheering, singing and counting down to the new year, many with their masks pulled down. Omicron infections in Singapore have begun to creep up, now making up around 17 per cent of local cases and suggesting a wave of this variant is coming, health minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday. At the same time, ICU numbers are the lowest in the last quarter and active local cases over the past week are a fraction of what they were at the peak, he said. All these signal the delta variant wave has subsided, at least for now, Ong added. He reiterated that vaccination and boosters remain the key response. Indonesia to start booster programme Indonesia will begin giving booster shots to the general public from January 12, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday, as the Omicron variant spreads in the country. Health workers were given booster doses in July and the plan now is to cover all adults who took their second shots over six months ago. Some 21 million will be covered under the booster programme this month, Budi said. “It has been decided by Mr. President that (the programme) will begin on January 12,” he said. Indonesia has fully vaccinated 42 per cent of its 270 million population, using shots produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. Budi said the country will need about 230 million doses for boosters and has secured nearly half of them. The Omicron variant has infected over 150 people in Indonesia since its detection last month, most whom were international travellers. Budi said six of the cases stemmed from local transmission in Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, and Bali island. Indonesia grappled with a devastating second wave of infections in July, but case numbers have plummeted since then. South Korea reports first Omicron deaths Two people who posthumously tested positive for the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus appear to be the first such reported deaths in South Korea , Yonhap news agency reported on Monday. Officials are still investigating the exact cause of death for the two patients, who were both in their 90s, Yonhap reported, citing health authorities in the city of Gwangju. Australia’s health system can cope, says PM Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that his country’s health system can cope with the new wave of coronavirus infections as Victoria state reported a record number of cases and hospitalisation surged in New South Wales. Morrison spoke in two television interviews before Monday’s figures were released. Victoria reported 8,577 new cases, a record for the state which eclipsed the previous peak of 7,442 on New Year’s Day. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, saw a slight decline in case numbers from a record 22,577 on Saturday to 20,794 on Monday. But the number of people in hospitals rose to 1,204 from 1,066 the day before. There were 95 people in intensive care, a rise of 12 on the previous day. Why Omicron may be the final coronavirus variant of concern Speaking to the Seven Network , Morrison said Australia’s health system is well equipped to deal with the surge in case numbers caused by the spread of the Omicron variant. “It’s important that with the rising case numbers, we see that the severeness of this illness is already being shown to be around 75 per cent less than what we saw with Delta,” Morrison said. “Rising case numbers is part of the Omicron period, it’s part of the new phase of the pandemic we’re in.” “That doesn’t mean to say it can’t put pressure on the hospital system. It can and that’s why we’re working very closely with the [state] premiers and chief ministers to make sure those resources are there,” Morrison added. Morrison said the federal government would take steps to ensure hospitals had the resources they need to cope with rising admissions. His government last week changed the definition of “close contact” to ensure health workers who might have been exposed to an active case do not have to isolate and can return to work. In Thailand and Singapore, Omicron hits Asia’s nascent tourism revival India vaccinates children aged 15-18 India started vaccinating children aged 15 to 18 against the coronavirus on Monday as it quickly expands its inoculation effort to cover the world’s largest adolescent population amid fears the Omicron variant will drive a new surge of infections. Authorities on Monday reported 33,750 new Covid-19 cases and 123 deaths. The total number of cases of the fast-spreading variant detected in India was 1,700, the health ministry said. Private and public schools will double up as vaccination centres for children and school authorities have been ordered to report their daily vaccination data to state authorities. “Children are going to be given vaccines in their schools. They can also go to vaccination centres and get the dose … they can just walk in,” said Jai Prakash Shivahare, health commissioner in Gujarat state. Authorities in Gujarat, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, are hoping to give a first dose to 3.6 million children this week. “We have the capacity and we have the vaccines to cover most of the children. We appeal to parents to cooperate and ensure the children are vaccinated at the earliest,” Shivahare said. The UN children’s agency Unicef estimates India has the largest population of adolescents in the world with about 253 million of them. ‘Viral blizzards’ of Omicron prompt scramble for Covid-19 vaccine boosters Thousands of children, many accompanied by parents, queued up outside schools, medical centres and special health camps from early on Monday to secure their first dose of a vaccine. The government is only giving children Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine as that is the only vaccine with emergency use listing for the 15-18 age group, the health ministry said last week. Adults in India get Covaxin, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is branded as Covishield, and the Sputnik V shot. Xian officials sacked over handling of Covid-19 outbreak as cases fall Curbs for unjabbed in Metro Manila The Philippine capital region’s mayors agreed to pass ordinances to forbid unvaccinated people from leaving home except for buying essential goods, and to bar them from entering malls and restaurants. The restrictions will be put in place to avoid overwhelming hospitals and to allow the economy to remain open as cases rise, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jnr during a televised briefing. The capital region accounts for a third of the nation’s economic output.