Monday evening UK news briefing: Booster vaccine programme for all adults to fight omicron variant

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It comes as two new cases of the omicron variant have been detected in London, taking the UK’s current total to 11. 

Speaking in the Commons, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We expect cases to rise over the coming days.” 

From tomorrow, England will face new restrictions to try to tackle the new mutation but Mr Javid added that if omicron is “no more dangerous” than the delta variant, “we wouldn’t keep measures in place for a day longer than necessary”. 

Here is a guide to the new rules.

Sturgeon’s warning

Six cases of omicron have been identified in Scotland, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to urge Scots to take a Covid test every time they go out to meet someone from another household. 

Some of the cases are thought to involve community transmission in Scotland rather than foreign travel. 

In a joint letter with Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, Ms Strugeon called for a four nations Cobra meeting to be convened and for all international arrivals to self-isolate for eight days and take two PCR tests to check if they have the variant. 

This was rejected by Downing Street. Tom Harris sets out why many on the Left want a lockdown.

Impact on children

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the mutant strain of Covid-19, close contacts of those who test positive for omicron will have to self-isolate for 10 days from tomorrow, with the Government confirming that this applies to children.

The impacts of previous Covid restrictions meant pupils lost half a year of progress in school, many suffered mental health issues and skills relating to communication, fine motor and problem-solving were impacted. 

Robert Taylor asks why it is always children who lose out when tougher restrictions are introduced.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: ‘Simpsons’ missing in Hong Kong

An episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in which the cartoon American family visit Tiananmen Square is missing from the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong, adding to concerns about mainland China-style censorship in the city. It comes at a time when authorities are clamping down on dissent, with curbs on speech becoming a norm in the international business hub and ensnaring global media and tech giants. Disney+ reaches more than 116 million worldwide subscribers and the version of the service for Hong Kong started streaming earlier this month. Eagle-eyed customers soon noticed the conspicuous absence of “The Simpsons” episode 12 of season 16. Read what happens in the episode.

Monday long-read

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