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Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

  • NHS will start sacking unvaccinated staff next month
  • Minister’s veiled swipe at PM over No 10 parties
  • Covid cases nearly lower than when ‘Plan B’ was triggered
  • China cancels Winter Olympics ticket sales amid rising cases
  • Telegraph View: Johnson must set out a sensible post-pandemic strategy

Making premature promises to lift Plan B restrictions is “unwise”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy on Covid-19, said it is “important that there is no premature promising that restrictions will end at a particular time”.

Dr Nabarro told BBC Breakfast: “Restrictions are making a difference because they reduce the number of contacts people have, and restrictions therefore are helpful and it’s important that there is no premature promising that restrictions will end at a particular time or we’ll be able to get back to normal at a particular time.

“I want to be hopeful but I want to do my best to be as clear with what I’m really seeing, which is where I need to continue to be cautious and I will be.”

Asked about the prospect of the Government lifting Plan B restrictions in England, he added: “I’m a public health person… I would not be making promises some time in the future because, once you make a promise, it’s super hard then to change what you’re going to do – you feel you’re kind of doing a U-turn.

“This virus is constantly evolving and it’s super hard to predict where it will be – we can say where we hope we’re going to go, we can say where we’d like to go, we can say what we think we need to do to get there – but making promises that we’ll do something on a particular date, I think, is unwise.”

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On Off 9:01AM

Sturgeon ‘cautiously optimistic’ amid calls to end Covid restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “cautiously optimistic” about Scotland’s coronavirus situation ahead of a statement announcing any changes to restrictions.

The First Minister said the country is “in a better position than I feared we would be before Christmas”, but would not comment on whether she plans to follow Wales with a mass easing of Covid rules.

Her comments came as the Scottish Tories called for the scrapping of most coronavirus restrictions, with the exception of face coverings.

Ms Sturgeon will chair a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning before updating Holyrood about the Government’s plans later in the afternoon.

Asked about any possible changes to the coronavirus measures, Ms Sturgeon told the PA news agency: “I think everybody wants to see Covid end so it follows that everybody – me included – wants to see all restrictions end.”

9:00AM

Children’s word of the year highlights impact of lockdown

“Anxiety” has been voted the children’s word of the year, highlighting impact of lockdown and school closures, say the Oxford University Press.

More than 8,000 pupils were asked to choose the top words they would use when talking about health and wellbeing and their experiences of lockdown.

The research from lexicographers at Oxford University Press (OUP) suggests that more than one in five (21 per cent) of surveyed pupils chose anxiety as their number one word.

This was closely followed by challenging (19 per cent) and isolate (14 per cent).

Researchers say the findings highlight the impact that lockdown and school closures had on children.

Gareth Davies has the full story.

8:54AM

Japan sees record 27,000 Covid-19 cases as government mulls curbs 

Japan’s new Covid-19 cases jumped to a record high on Tuesday, local media reported, as the government considered expanding measures to contain the infectious omicron coronavirus variant.

The country had more than 27,000 new cases, broadcaster TBS said, exceeding the previous high seen in August shortly after Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics.

The western prefecture of Osaka posted a record 5,396 new cases, while Tokyo had 5,185, the highest since Aug. 21.

Tokyo and 12 other prefectures have requested infection-fighting measures from the central government, Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa told reporters, amid concern that omicron infections would overwhelm the healthcare system.

The measures permit governors to order curbs on mobility and business, including shorter opening hours for bars and restaurants. An official decision on the quasi-emergency measures, as they are called, may be declared as early as Wednesday, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

Coronavirus Japan Spotlight Chart – cases default 8:44AM

China orders overseas mail disinfection over omicron fears

China’s postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.

Multiple small outbreaks in recent weeks – including in Beijing – have tested China’s strict policy of targeting zero Covid cases, which authorities have pursued even as the rest of the world has gradually reopened.

In recent days, Chinese officials have suggested that some people could have been infected by packages from abroad, including a woman in the capital whom authorities said had no contact with other infected people.

China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail “as soon as possible” and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.

The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from “countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk” and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination.

8:40AM

‘Genuinely an optimistic picture,’ Sage member says

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said he agrees that the “pandemic will end and we will move to a situation where we’re living with the virus continuing to transmit but causing much less disruption”.

He told Times Radio: “It will tend to, I think, settle into a seasonal pattern – we may still get quite big winters of infection but not the sort of level where we can justify wholesale societal closedown.

“So I think it is genuinely an optimistic picture, but we’re still not quite there yet.”

Prof Hayward said there are “very encouraging signs” of cases plateauing or dropping in some places, but nobody is sure whether they will stabilise at a very high level or dip down.

Any new variant would need to “out-compete omicron” through increased transmissibility or escape from immunity, and not through changes in severity, he added.

8:38AM

UK shrugs off omicron as number of payrolled workers soars

Britain’s jobs market strengthened further last month despite the omicron variant of coronavirus hitting the UK and the Government’s Plan B restrictions, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of UK payrolled workers jumped by a record 184,000 month on month, or 0.6 per cent, in December to 29.5 million.

The figures also reveal that in the three months to November the unemployment rate fell back almost to where it was pre-Covid, to 4.1 per cent from 4.2 per cent in the previous quarter and close to the 4 per cent level seen in the last pre-pandemic quarter.

The ONS said the number of people employed is now 1.4 per cent, or 409,000, above levels seen before Covid.

8:31AM

Raab: Cummings’ claim that Johnson misled Parliament is ‘nonsense’

Dominic Cummings’ allegation that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament over claims of rule-breaking parties in Downing Street is “nonsense”, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

As Mr Johnson faced fresh calls to resign, Dominic Raab insisted the Prime Minister had been “straightforward” with MPs when saying he believed a garden party during lockdown would be a work event.

Former chief adviser Mr Cummings said he was willing to “swear under oath” that Mr Johnson did know in advance about a “bring your own booze” event in the garden of No 10.

He alleged that the Prime Minister “waved it aside” when he warned him about the party scheduled for May 20 2020 and urged him to “grip this madhouse”.

But Mr Raab told Times Radio: “The suggestion that he lied is nonsense. He’s made it very clear to the House of Commons… that he thought it was a work event.”

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Raab said he is “confident he’s been straightforward with” Parliament and said the “PM has been very clear that that’s not true or accurate” when pressed about Mr Cummings’ claims.

My colleague Dominic Penna has all the latest Westminster news on our politics live blog.

8:26AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Jan 18.

dt 9:01AM

Sturgeon ‘cautiously optimistic’ amid calls to end Covid restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “cautiously optimistic” about Scotland’s coronavirus situation ahead of a statement announcing any changes to restrictions.

The First Minister said the country is “in a better position than I feared we would be before Christmas”, but would not comment on whether she plans to follow Wales with a mass easing of Covid rules.

Her comments came as the Scottish Tories called for the scrapping of most coronavirus restrictions, with the exception of face coverings.

Ms Sturgeon will chair a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning before updating Holyrood about the Government’s plans later in the afternoon.

Asked about any possible changes to the coronavirus measures, Ms Sturgeon told the PA news agency: “I think everybody wants to see Covid end so it follows that everybody – me included – wants to see all restrictions end.”

9:00AM

Children’s word of the year highlights impact of lockdown

“Anxiety” has been voted the children’s word of the year, highlighting impact of lockdown and school closures, say the Oxford University Press.

More than 8,000 pupils were asked to choose the top words they would use when talking about health and wellbeing and their experiences of lockdown.

The research from lexicographers at Oxford University Press (OUP) suggests that more than one in five (21 per cent) of surveyed pupils chose anxiety as their number one word.

This was closely followed by challenging (19 per cent) and isolate (14 per cent).

Researchers say the findings highlight the impact that lockdown and school closures had on children.

Gareth Davies has the full story.

8:54AM

Japan sees record 27,000 Covid-19 cases as government mulls curbs 

Japan’s new Covid-19 cases jumped to a record high on Tuesday, local media reported, as the government considered expanding measures to contain the infectious omicron coronavirus variant.

The country had more than 27,000 new cases, broadcaster TBS said, exceeding the previous high seen in August shortly after Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics.

The western prefecture of Osaka posted a record 5,396 new cases, while Tokyo had 5,185, the highest since Aug. 21.

Tokyo and 12 other prefectures have requested infection-fighting measures from the central government, Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa told reporters, amid concern that omicron infections would overwhelm the healthcare system.

The measures permit governors to order curbs on mobility and business, including shorter opening hours for bars and restaurants. An official decision on the quasi-emergency measures, as they are called, may be declared as early as Wednesday, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

Coronavirus Japan Spotlight Chart – cases default 8:44AM

China orders overseas mail disinfection over omicron fears

China’s postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.

Multiple small outbreaks in recent weeks – including in Beijing – have tested China’s strict policy of targeting zero Covid cases, which authorities have pursued even as the rest of the world has gradually reopened.

In recent days, Chinese officials have suggested that some people could have been infected by packages from abroad, including a woman in the capital whom authorities said had no contact with other infected people.

China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail “as soon as possible” and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.

The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from “countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk” and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination.

8:40AM

‘Genuinely an optimistic picture,’ Sage member says

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said he agrees that the “pandemic will end and we will move to a situation where we’re living with the virus continuing to transmit but causing much less disruption”.

He told Times Radio: “It will tend to, I think, settle into a seasonal pattern – we may still get quite big winters of infection but not the sort of level where we can justify wholesale societal closedown.

“So I think it is genuinely an optimistic picture, but we’re still not quite there yet.”

Prof Hayward said there are “very encouraging signs” of cases plateauing or dropping in some places, but nobody is sure whether they will stabilise at a very high level or dip down.

Any new variant would need to “out-compete omicron” through increased transmissibility or escape from immunity, and not through changes in severity, he added.

8:38AM

UK shrugs off omicron as number of payrolled workers soars

Britain’s jobs market strengthened further last month despite the omicron variant of coronavirus hitting the UK and the Government’s Plan B restrictions, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of UK payrolled workers jumped by a record 184,000 month on month, or 0.6 per cent, in December to 29.5 million.

The figures also reveal that in the three months to November the unemployment rate fell back almost to where it was pre-Covid, to 4.1 per cent from 4.2 per cent in the previous quarter and close to the 4 per cent level seen in the last pre-pandemic quarter.

The ONS said the number of people employed is now 1.4 per cent, or 409,000, above levels seen before Covid.

8:31AM

Raab: Cummings’ claim that Johnson misled Parliament is ‘nonsense’

Dominic Cummings’ allegation that Boris Johnson lied to Parliament over claims of rule-breaking parties in Downing Street is “nonsense”, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

As Mr Johnson faced fresh calls to resign, Dominic Raab insisted the Prime Minister had been “straightforward” with MPs when saying he believed a garden party during lockdown would be a work event.

Former chief adviser Mr Cummings said he was willing to “swear under oath” that Mr Johnson did know in advance about a “bring your own booze” event in the garden of No 10.

He alleged that the Prime Minister “waved it aside” when he warned him about the party scheduled for May 20 2020 and urged him to “grip this madhouse”.

But Mr Raab told Times Radio: “The suggestion that he lied is nonsense. He’s made it very clear to the House of Commons… that he thought it was a work event.”

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Raab said he is “confident he’s been straightforward with” Parliament and said the “PM has been very clear that that’s not true or accurate” when pressed about Mr Cummings’ claims.

My colleague Dominic Penna has all the latest Westminster news on our politics live blog.

8:26AM

Today’s front page

Here is your Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Jan 18.

dt

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