Boris Johnson got ‘big calls right’ on Covid, says Michael Gove
The apparent Covid strain known as ‘Deltacron’ is likely the result of laboratory contamination, scientists have said.
It has now been suggested that fragments of Omicron were accidentally inserted into Delta’s genetic make-up during sequencing to identify a Covid variant infection. This is a common error that can occur in any laboratory, said Aris Katzourakis, a professor of evolution and genomics at Oxford University.
It comes as a total of 142,224 new Covid cases and 77 deaths linked to the virus were reported in the UK today.
The numbers are for a 24 hour period from Sunday up to today.
While no new deaths were reported in Scotland, officials have noted that register offices are now generally closed at weekends and that this would be a reason for no deaths recorded during this reporting period.
‘Truly beyond belief’: Covid victim’s daughter says she ‘feels sick’ to think of No 10 party
Shaun Brady, a key worker at the Kraft Heinz factory in Wigan, died four days before more than 100 Downing Street employees were reportedly invited to a party during the height of the first coronavirus lockdown.
The email by the prime minister’s private secretary Martin Reynolds appeared to organise a “bring your own booze” evening gathering in the garden of No 10, which would be one of many parties said to have been held by the government while social distancing regulations were in place.
Lamiat Sabin has the story:
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 23:57
Watch: Angela Rayner slams ‘despicable’ alleged BYOB No 10 party
Angela Rayner slams ‘despicable’ alleged BYOB No 10 party
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 23:42
CDC advises Americans to ‘avoid’ travel to Canada given covid case numbers
The US Centers for Disease Control on Monday advised Americans to “avoid” travel to Canada as coronavirus cases, particularly of the Omicron variant, continue to sweep the continent.
The CDC raised its warning level to Four – the highest it has – regarding travel to the United States’ northern neighbour.
“If you must travel to Canda, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” the CDC warned, continuing: “Because of the current situation in Canada, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 23:25
Pfizer Omicron vaccine could be in production by March, says CEO
Pfizer’s chief executive has said that moving toward a redesigned coronavirus vaccine that is specifically targeted to combat the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is the “most likely scenario.”
Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Albert Bourla said Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are working on both an Omicron-specific vaccine, as well as a jab that would include both the previous vaccine and the one targeted at the new variant.
Mr Bourla said the company could be ready to file for approval for a redesigned vaccine and start producing it as soon as March 2022.
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 22:58
Ikea cuts sick pay for unvaccinated staff told to self-isolate
Ikea has cut sick pay for unvaccinated UK staff told to self-isolate after close contact with someone who has Covid-19.
Workers at the Swedish furniture giant could now recieve as little as £96.35 a week – the Statutory Sick Pay minimum – while they isolate.
Ikea, which has 21 large stores and more than 10,000 staff in the UK, said it was an “emotive topic” but promised people’s circumstances would be “considered on a case by case basis”.
Laurie Churchman has the story:
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 22:35
In pictures: Covid-19 spike in Mexico airport leaves passengers stranded due to hundreds of flight cancellations
Passengers are being forced to set up camp in Benito Juarez International Airport, Mexico City, following a spike in Covid-19 cases among airline staff leading to hundreds of flight cancellations.
Various Mexican airlines have faced a surge in cases among their workforce, including pilots, causing a delay or cancellation of flights, leaving thousands of passengers to wait in the facilities for a new flight or help from the airlines.
Aeromexico, the most affected by the outbreak, canceled 260 flights in five days.
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 22:20
PM ‘attended No 10 lockdown-breaking party’ with 100 Downing Street staff invited
More than 100 Downing Street staff were invited to a lockdown-breaking party in the No 10 garden and told to “bring your own booze”, a leaked email shows.
The revelation heaps fresh pressure on Boris Johnson, who refused to say whether he had attended, but a source told The Independent he had “hung out” with staff for at least an hour as they knocked back drinks.
The party took place on 20 May 2020, as England was still emerging from the strict first Covid lockdown and meetings with more than one other person outdoors were still banned.
Ashley Cowburn and Anna Isaac report:
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 21:54
Covid hospitalisations in France see biggest one-day increase since April
The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in France leapt by 767 to 22,749 on Monday, the largest daily surge since April 2021.
The total number of hospitalisations remained well below records set in Nov-Dec 2020, when they topped 700 for nearly a month – peaked at 33,497 on 16 November.
Meanwhile, new admissions to intensive care units rose by 57 to 3,904 on Monday, their highest level since mid-May last year.
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 21:30
Watch: Michael Gove says lateral flow tests will be free ‘as long as we need them’
Michael Gove says lateral flow tests will be free ‘as long as we need them’
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 21:08
Man thanked by Queen for Covid community work fighting for right to remain in UK following Home Office ‘error’
A man awarded royal recognition for his efforts to support his local community in south east London during the pandemic is fighting to ensure his right to remain in the UK, following a years-long struggle allegedly sparked by a Home Office “administrative error”.
Vimal Pandya, aged 41, has been described as a “shining light” and “pillar of the community” by residents in Rotherhithe, after working 18 to 20 hours per day during the first lockdown to ensure elderly and vulnerable people received food and essential supplies, which he delivered by foot.
His efforts were such that Mr Pandya received a letter last February from Sir Kenneth Olisa, the Queen’s personal representative in London, thanking him for going “above and beyond the call of duty” to support his community.
My colleague Andy Gregory reports:
Emily Atkinson10 January 2022 20:50