COVID-19 updates: New Zealand imposes restrictions amid omicron outbreak

The country's PM also postponed her wedding due to the rise in cases.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.5 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 865,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 63.3% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 60 arrested amid violent COVID-19 protests in Brussels

More than 60 people have been arrested in Brussels after demonstrations protesting COVID-19 mandates turned violent, Belgian Federal Police told ABC News.

The protests were in response to an announcement made by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo Friday that people would need booster shots after five months after their second shot to maintain COVID-19 passes giving access to bars or cinemas.

The five-month limit is among the strictest COVID-19 mandates in Europe. The European-wide guide for travel is nine months, and France’s mandate is six months.

Three police officers and 12 demonstrators were injured amid the chaos. Officers used water cannons and tear gas on demonstrators, police said.

The protests remained mostly peaceful until about 2 p.m. local time, when a group of people started clashing with the police near the European Union Parliament in the Schuman neighborhood. Windows of some EU buildings were smashed, and some vehicles were damaged, police said.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

New Zealand imposes restrictions amid omicron outbreak, PM postpones wedding

New Zealand announced a new set of COVID-19 restrictions Sunday amid its first omicron outbreak.

The country, which had so far remained one of the few countries in the world without a surge of cases of the new variant, will impose new restrictions under the "Red" traffic light system starting at 11:59 PM local time on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reported in a press conference Sunday the variant is circulating in Auckland.

There are nine newly confirmed omicron cases identified in a single family in the last day. The family had just returned from attending a wedding and other events where there were more than 100 people, officials said.

And due to the outbreak, Ardern announced that she and her partner are postponing their wedding.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou

Remdesivir approved for use in non-hospitalized patients

The Food and Drug Administration has expanded its approval for remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, to include people who are not hospitalized. Previously, the approval was limited to patients who were already hospitalized.

The expanded use was based on a study that found high-risk COVID-19 patients who were treated with remdesivir were less likely to be hospitalized than patients who got a placebo.

"Today's actions provide adults and pediatric patients, with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, with a treatment option they could receive outside of a traditional inpatient hospital setting, including at skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare settings and outpatient facilities such as infusion centers," Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement Friday.

The intravenous drug, known by the brand name Veklury, is approved for use in patients as young as 12 years old who weigh at least 88 pounds.

-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik

Biden has no authority to mandate vaccines for federal employees, judge rules

A federal judge in Texas shot down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers.

A lawsuit was filed in December by Feds for Medical Freedom, compromised of government employees from various agencies and AFGE 918, a union which primarily represents employees from the Federal Protective Service and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency.

Citing the Supreme Court’s most recent decision against OSHA, U.S. District Judge Jeffery Vincent Brown ruled there is a difference between public health measures and setting workplace and safety standards.

“The President certainly possesses ‘broad statutory authority to regulate executive branch employment policies,’” the judge wrote. “But the Supreme Court has expressly held that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not an employment regulation. And that means the President was without statutory authority to issue the federal worker mandate.”

Brown made clear that getting vaccinated is the best protection against COVID-19 and the lawsuit had to do with whether or not a president could issue such a sweeping order with the stroke of a pen.

The Justice Department will appeal the ruling, a spokesman said.

Following the ruling, a Biden administration spokesperson said "we are confident in our legal authority."

"Importantly, as we face the most transmissible variant to date, every leader should be focused on using the tools we know work to protect the American people. Vaccination is our strongest tool against the virus," the spokesperson said in a statement, noting that more than 93% of federal employees have gotten at least one vaccine dose.

-ABC News' Luke Barr