Britons packed the streets for new year celebrations last night despite Covid-19 infections hitting a new record, and pleas from government to keep socialising to a minimum.
Images showed crowds crammed into places like London’s Leicester Square, while thousands of people were expected to have crossed the borders from Wales and Scotland to dodge tougher restrictions on partying.
It came as the UK notched yet another one-day record for new infections, with 189,846, plus another 203 deaths. Separate figures showed an estimated 2.3 million people had Covid-19 in the week ending 23 December.
Separately, people are being warned not to post pictures of their negative lateral flow tests online, amid fears fraudsters are using social media posts to provide fake results.
Meanwhile, NHS bosses have warned that hospitals may have to ban visitors over the next few weeks to avoid spreading Omicron.
Matthew Taylor, the head of the NHS Confederation, said: “When you’re facing the kind of pressures the health service is going to be under for the next few weeks, this is the kind of thing managers have to do.”
Emirates to institute ban on foreign travel for unvaccinated
The United Arab Emirates will ban non-vaccinated citizens from traveling abroad from 10 January, the state news agency WAM reported on Saturday, citing the foreign ministry and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.
The report said that fully vaccinated citizens would also require a booster shot to be eligible to travel. The ban would not apply to those with medical or humanitarian exemptions.
Rich nations break pledge to vaccinate 40% of Africa against Covid by end of 2021
Rich nations have broken their promise to vaccinate 40 per cent of people against Covid in every African country by the end of 2021, new figures show.
Just sevenof the continent’s 54 countries have reached the target, according to the World Health Organisation, with most lagging way behind at under 10 per cent.
Africa’s largest nation, Nigeria, has fully vaccinated just 2.1 per cent of its people, with Ethiopia (3.5 per cent) and Democratic Republic of Congo (0.1 per cent) also having among the lowest rates, writes Rob Merrick.
Ireland reports further 23,281 Covid cases
A further 23,281 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Ireland.
At 8am today there were 656 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 85 were in intensive care.
Israel reports first case of ‘flurona’ – rare double infection of Covid and influenza
Israel has recorded the first case of a rare mixture of two diseases, influenza and coronavirus, in a woman. The disease has been dubbed “flurona”.
Local reports said the patient is a young pregnant woman, who is currently admitted to the Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva city, where she presented mild symptoms.
My colleague Sravasti Dasgupta has more details:
Restrictions on freedom ‘must be absolute last resort’, says Sajid Javid
Restrictions on freedom “must be an absolute last resort”, health secretary Sajid Javid has said, as a health boss warned the prevalence of the Omicron coronavirus variant could prompt hospital managers to close wards to visitors.
Mr Javid and NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor agreed the record-breaking Omicron wave of infection will “test the limits of finite NHS capacity even more than a typical winter”, with reports suggesting a requirement to work from home in England could be in place for most of January.
And Mr Taylor said some hospitals could be forced to exclude visitors as part of the “difficult choices” made to stymie the spread of Omicron on wards.
It came as figures showed that hospital admissions in England have risen to their highest level since January 2021, while the number of NHS hospital staff absent due to the virus nearly doubled in a month.
NHS chief warn hospitals may have to ban visitors
Matthew Taylor, the head of the NHS Confederation which represents hospitals, has warned the health service will be pushed to its limits this winter thanks to Omicron.
Mr Taylor said some hospitals could be forced to exclude visitors as part of the “difficult choices” made to stymie the spread.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Hospital managers have to make very difficult choices and excluding visitors is one of those very difficult choices.
“It’s not something that anybody wants to do, it’s a last resort.
“But, when you’re facing the kind of pressures the health service is going to be under for the next few weeks, this is the kind of thing managers have to do.”
He added: “I understand how much people want to return to normal and I’m confident that, as this year progresses, we will be able to do that, and we all hope that 2022 is the year in which coronavirus just becomes an illness that we live with, not an illness that dominates our lives.
“But you can have the optimism but still recognise the next few weeks are going to be very tough and we need to do whatever is necessary to get us through these next few weeks.”
Kim Jong-un says North Korea will focus on economy, food and Covid in 2022
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has listed out his government’s major goals for 2022, including a strong focus on domestic issues such as rural development and plans to boost the country’s faltering economy, in a key political conference, state media reported.
Mr Kim’s comments on Friday came at the end of a five-day plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, and coincided with the completion of 10 years since he assumed leadership of the country after his father’s death in 2011.
Why you shouldn’t share pictures of your Covid tests online
People are being urged not to post pictures of negative Covid lateral flow tests on social media because criminals are using them to make fake passes, writes Matt Mathers.
Some venues in the UK such as nightclubs require customers to provide a negative test or prove their vaccinations status before entering.
Security experts are now warning that an illegal trade is developing where fraudsters use details of tests posted online to provide others with negative results.
They are warning that those who post these images could inadvertently be posing a risk to public health measures.
‘We need to be faster than the virus’, Germany’s new chancellor warns in New Year’s address
Germany’s new chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned in his New Year address that his country had to move more quickly in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and that more people need to get vaccinated.
In his first televised end of year address to the nation after taking office 23 days ago, Scholz gave the same sort of sombre speech, filled with vague promises, that his conservative predecessor Angela Merkel did in each of the last 16 years.
Starmer reflects on ‘tough year’ in 2021 address
Source Link Covid UK news – live: English streets and nightclubs packed, as hospital visits may be banned to beat Omicron