UK markets open in 7 hours 52 minutes
  • NIKKEI 225

    27,011.33
    0.00 (0.00%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    24,289.90
    +46.30 (+0.19%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    87.38
    +0.03 (+0.03%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,820.90
    -8.80 (-0.48%)
     
  • DOW

    34,168.09
    -129.61 (-0.38%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    27,346.97
    -200.37 (-0.73%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    835.69
    -20.12 (-2.35%)
     
  • ^IXIC

    13,542.12
    +2.82 (+0.02%)
     
  • ^FTAS

    4,192.70
    +53.23 (+1.29%)
     

Covid news latest: New London Omicron case amongst nine discovered in England

·28-min read
Covid news latest: New London Omicron case amongst nine discovered in England

Seven more Omicron cases have been discovered in England taking the total up to 29.

Another three were discovered in Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Thursday.

It emerged as European Union’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months.

Mathematical modelling could lend weight to preliminary information about the very high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, above that of the Delta variant, which before Omicron was considered the most contagious of the main coronavirus strains.

It came as annual jabs are likely to be needed for years to come in order to maintain “a very high level of protection”, the boss of Pfizer has said.

Dr Albert Bourla told the BBC that, without vaccines, the “fundamental structure of our society would be threatened”.

Read More

London Covid cases soar as 15 residents are diagnosed with Omicron

Affluent borough becomes London’s Covid hotspot

Germany announces de facto lockdown for the unvaccinated

Angela Rayner calls for police to investigat PM’s alleged lockdown Christmas party

20:10 , Barney Davis

Angela Rayner has now asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case consider bringing in police to work out if Boris Johnson broke any Covid rules with his reported Christmas Party.

In a letter, Ms Rayner said that “the guidance from central Government was very clear that large gatherings and parties were explicitly forbidden”.

She asked if Mr Case was considering referring the matter to the Metropolitan Police, and also asked whether he would be investigating the use of Government property for the gatherings.

She also insinuated it could be a breach of the ministerial code.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson did not deny the allegations, while No 10 repeatedly argued that “at all stages the rules have been followed”.

Ms Rayner said: “This Government is undermining public health messaging with their actions and we cannot let this go on unchecked.

“It cannot be that the Prime Minister believes there to be a set of rules for the public and a totally different set of rules for himself.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”

Angela Rayner calls for police to investigat PM’s alleged lockdown Christmas party

20:10 , Barney Davis

Angela Rayner has now asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case consider bringing in police to work out if Boris Johnson broke any Covid rules with his reported Christmas Party.

In a letter, Ms Rayner said that “the guidance from central Government was very clear that large gatherings and parties were explicitly forbidden”.

She asked if Mr Case was considering referring the matter to the Metropolitan Police, and also asked whether he would be investigating the use of Government property for the gatherings.

She also insinuated it could be a breach of the ministerial code.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson did not deny the allegations, while No 10 repeatedly argued that “at all stages the rules have been followed”.

Ms Rayner said: “This Government is undermining public health messaging with their actions and we cannot let this go on unchecked.

“It cannot be that the Prime Minister believes there to be a set of rules for the public and a totally different set of rules for himself.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”

Kiss cautiously says Sajid Javid

18:25 , Barney Davis

The Health Secretary has said it has got “nothing to do with the Government” who people kiss, after a Cabinet minister suggested “snogging under the mistletoe” should be minimised over Christmas.

Sajid Javid told ITV News: “People can snog who they wish. I’ll certainly be kissing my wife under the mistletoe – it’s a Javid family tradition.

“It’s got nothing to do with the Government who you kiss or anything like that. But the only thing is just – there’s guidance already out there – just be cautious and enjoy yourselves.”

On Wednesday, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told ITV’s Peston programme that “we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us”.

But she said “snogging under the mistletoe” should be avoided with “people you don’t already know”.

Kiss cautiously says Sajid Javid

18:25 , Barney Davis

The Health Secretary has said it has got “nothing to do with the Government” who people kiss, after a Cabinet minister suggested “snogging under the mistletoe” should be minimised over Christmas.

Sajid Javid told ITV News: “People can snog who they wish. I’ll certainly be kissing my wife under the mistletoe – it’s a Javid family tradition.

“It’s got nothing to do with the Government who you kiss or anything like that. But the only thing is just – there’s guidance already out there – just be cautious and enjoy yourselves.”

On Wednesday, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told ITV’s Peston programme that “we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us”.

But she said “snogging under the mistletoe” should be avoided with “people you don’t already know”.

Seven more Omicron cases found in England

17:33 , Barney Davis

A further seven cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in England and another three in Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.It brings the total number of confirmed cases in England to 29 and the total in Scotland to 13.In England, cases have been identified in the East Midlands, East of England, London, South East and North West.Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: “We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second, third or booster jab without delay.“A booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended and will be available at a minimum of 3 months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your families and your communities.

141 more deaths recorded in highest daily infections figure since spike after Euros in July

16:55 , Barney Davis

The UK has recorded 53,945 new cases of coronavirus - the highest daily figure since mid-July following the European football championship.

The last time more cases were reported was on 17 July, when 54,674 new Covid-19 cases were recorded, six days after the tournament’s final at Wembley.

Today’s figures also showed 141 more deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test - compared to 41 on July 17.

Omicron may soon cause over half of COVID infections in Europe -EU

16:39 , Barney Davis

The European Union’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months.

The estimate could lend weight to preliminary information about the very high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, above that of the Delta variant, which before Omicron was considered the most contagious of the main coronavirus strains.

“Based on mathematical modelling conducted by ECDC, there are indications that Omicron could cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a statement.

Boris gets a Christmas boost

16:33 , Barney Davis

Boris faces difficult questions on No 10 Christmas party as he gets booster

16:21 , Barney Davis

Boris Johnson got his booster jab and said at the same time any Christmas Party No 10 held last year were “in accordance with the rules”.

Asked whether he was holding a Christmas party, the Prime Minister told broadcasters there were events held in Downing Street “the whole time” and added: “We had events for Hanukkah, we turned the Christmas lights on, and all sorts of things in Number 10, and in accordance with the rules as you would expect.”

He told broadcasters, after receiving his booster jab, there has to be a “balanced and proportional approach” to tackling the Omicron variant.

Boris gets his Covid booster and says Christmas parties SHOULD go ahead

‘No need for alarm’ about Omicron, claims Stormont

15:23 , Daniel Keane

The Stormont Executive has described the emergency of the Omicron variant as a “serious and concerning development worldwide”, but stressed “there is no need for alarm”.

Ministers issued a joint statement after receiving an update from medical and scientific advisers on the latest situation around the coronavirus pandemic.

They said no cases of the variant have yet been detected in Northern Ireland, but added that is likely to change in the coming days.

“It is vitally important that everyone redoubles their efforts to drive infection rates down,” they said.

“The evidence on the new variant is being very closely monitored. And our public health experts will continue to liaise with colleagues in other jurisdictions as the situation develops globally and locally.

“No cases of the Omicron variant have yet been confirmed here, but that situation is likely to change in the coming days. The public will be kept informed and health protection measures will be actioned as appropriate.”

Watch: Minister says he ‘hasn’t been kissed under mistletoe for years’ amid Covid party confusion

15:04 , Daniel Keane

Scotland records 27 Covid deaths

14:49 , Daniel Keane

Scotland has recorded 27 Covid deaths and 3,002 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data.

The daily test positivity rate was 7.4 per cent according to data published by the Scottish Government on Thursday, down from 7.9 per cent the previous day.

There were 680 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 as of Wednesday night and, of these, 48 people were in intensive care.

German parliament to consider vaccine mandate

14:32 , Daniel Keane

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that people who are not vaccinated will be excluded from non-essential shops, cultural and recreational venues as part of measures to stem the spread of Covid.

Mrs Merkel also said that parliament would debate the possibility of imposing a general vaccine mandate that would come into force as early as February.

She made the announcement as more than 70,000 newly confirmed infections were reported in the country in a 24-hour period.

“The situation in our country is serious,” Mrs Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure an “act of national solidarity”.

She said officials had also agreed to require masks in schools, impose new limits on private meetings and aim for 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year.

DUP leader to confront colleagues over anti-mask vote

14:14 , Daniel Keane

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he will be speaking to his party colleagues to follow public health advice and encourage others to do so.

Sammy Wilson has also been criticised for describing the new Omicron variant as mild.

It came after three MPs from the DUP voted against the introduction of mask-wearing laws in the UK.

“It’s important that we all play our part, whether that’s in the public messaging or following the public health guidance that is there to help all of us, and that is what we must be doing, and that is what the DUP will be focused on,” he said today.

“I will be speaking to my colleagues. I am very clear, I want all of my colleagues to follow the guidance, the public health advice and to encourage others to do likewise.”

Sturgeon ‘sorry’ after Scots wrongly refused boosters

13:55 , Daniel Keane

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised to anyone who was “wrongly” turned away from a vaccination clinic after the Covid booster programme was accelerated.

The First Minister said a “very small number of people” had been affected due to a “glitch in the system”.

She told MSPs at Holyrood: “I am very sorry to anyone who was turned away from a vaccine clinic yesterday.

“When advice changes, and the JCVI advice changed on Monday, then because this is a clinical procedure, there is a process for updating protocols and materials to make sure that everything is being done in line with clinical protocols.

“In the normal course of events that is a process that would take around a week. That has happened now already.”

Boris Johnson to receive booster jab today

13:29 , Daniel Keane

Downing Street has confirmed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, aged 57, is due to receive his Covid-19 booster jab on Thursday.

Urging the public to get a top-up vaccination, No 10 said receiving a booster was the “best line of defence” against coronavirus.

First Omicron cases confirmed in mainland France

13:11 , Daniel Keane

France has reported its first two cases of the new Omicron variant, as the government’s top scientific adviser said it could become dominant in the country by the end of January.

The health body for the Ile de France region of greater Paris said in a statement an Omicron case had been found in a person who returned from Nigeria.

A second case was found in the Haut-Rhin region in eastern France in a person returning from South Africa, the local health body said. They were the first cases found in mainland France, after a case was found in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion last month.

Jean-Francois Delfraissy told BFM television the “true enemy” for now was still Delta, spreading in a fifth wave.

“We should see a progressive rise of the Omicron variant, which will take over from Delta,” possibly by the end of January, he said.

Downing Steet: ‘No numbers limit on Christmas gatherings in Covid guidance’

12:44 , Josh Salisbury

Downing Street has reiterated that rules dictating Christmas party sizes are not in the current set of Covid regulations.

It comes after business minister George Freeman suggested larger businesses might consider scaling back or forgoing staff Christmas parties.Responding to questions about Mr Freeman’s comments, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I think, as you know, Government advice does not set any limits on numbers in the guidance."

The No 10 official added: "There is nothing in the rules to prevent anyone from having Christmas parties or gathering in that way.

"There are a limited number of restrictions that we have set out on a precautionary basis while we do further investigation into this variant.

"Beyond that, the position has not changed since we moved past Step 4."

Asked whether Mr Freeman was wrong to suggest firms downsizing their festive parties, the spokesman replied: "That is not in the guidance, it is not in the regulations."

Starmer: PM ‘taking people for fools’ over Christmas party

11:45 , Daniel Keane

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson is “taking people for fools” amid reports that Downing Street hosted a boozy Christmas party last year while London was in Tier 3 restrictions.

He tweeted: “Boris Johnson hosted multiple parties when the country was in lockdown over Christmas.

“Yesterday he claimed that was within the rules. He is taking people for fools.

“It’s one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

‘Make your own judgment’: Hospitality industry reacts to Christmas party confusion

11:28 , Daniel Keane

The confusion from Government over cancelling Christmas parties has angered hospitality chiefs whose businesses were relying on a bumper festive season after three lockdowns.

Restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas, who co-owns Michelin-starred Elystan Street in Chelsea and Kitchen W8 in Kensington, said the mixed messaging was “totally unhelpful” and causing “an air of nervousness” in the sector during its most important trading period.

Des Gunewardena, chief executive of restaurant group D&D London, said: “The best thing to do is for people to ignore this nonsense and make their own judgment on the facts and advice from government which is still that Christmas parties can go ahead.”

Ian Haworth, spokesman for the Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square, said,:” We need a consistent message otherwise people are going to abandon celebrating in the West End and we’ll be back to square one.”

You can read our full story here.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Rees-Mogg says older students should ‘take responsibility’ for mask wearing

11:09 , Daniel Keane

Jacob Rees-Mogg has called teachers and older students take “individual responsibility” for mask-wearing in communal areas in schools.

As part of measures introduced to curb the spread of the Omnicron variant, all pupils in Year 7 and above must wear a face covering in busy spaces in schools.

Pressed on the new rules today, the Commons leader told MPs: “There is advice to schools that people may want to wear masks, older students and teachers, in communal areas, but people must make decisions for themselves.

“We believe on this side of the House in individual responsibility. I would encourage schools to keep up with their activities and keep up with their nativity plays.

“Indeed, I am hoping to be absent from spectating at Prime Minister’s Questions next week so I can watch one of my children, young Alfred, appearing as a donkey in a Christmas play.”

Cancelled Christmas parties are ‘catastrophic’ blow to hospitality

10:56 , Daniel Keane

Cancellations to work Christmas parties are a “catastrophic” blow to the hospitality industry, ministers have been warned.

A raft of major firms have reportedly scrapped large festive parties, including Google, the BBC and numerous Government departments.

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has joined a growing chorus of calls from the hospitality and tourism industry for the Government to offer support by freezing VAT at the lowered rate of 12.5% for two years.

He told Sky News the advice from UK Health Security Agency head Dr Jenny Harries earlier this week that people should not socialise unnecessarily has been “catastrophic for the industry”.

“We’ve seen office parties cancelled, flights are cancelling, it’s been a huge domino effect.

“December is a time when people can have a good time - they can take up to 25% of annual turnover in December.

“Sadly, at the eleventh hour, it’s been snatched away from them.”

More than a million people continue to struggle with long Covid

10:41 , Daniel Keane

More than a million people in the UK are continuing to experience long Covid, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.

An estimated 1.2 million people in private households reported having long Covid in the four weeks to October 31.

This includes 862,000 who first had Covid-19, or suspected they had Covid-19, at least 12 weeks previously, while 439,000 first had - or suspected they had - the virus at least one year ago.

Two-thirds of those with self-reported long Covid said their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”, the ONS found.

Ad regulator clears Tesco over Covid passport commercial

10:25 , Daniel Keane

The advertising regulator has cleared Tesco’s Christmas TV campaign featuring Father Christmas bearing a Covid vaccine passport.

It comes after the commercial prompted 5,000 complaints from viewers.

The ad shows Father Christmas brandishing a Covid passport at border control and proving he is vaccinated to a customs officer so he can enter the country.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “Having carefully assessed the 5,000 complaints we received about the Tesco Christmas ad campaign, we have concluded it doesn’t break our rules and there are no grounds for further action.

“In summary, we consider that the depiction of Santa displaying a proof of vaccine status in an airport is likely to be seen as a humorous reference to international travel rules people have experienced this year; it is unlikely to be interpreted as a message about these rules or the Covid-19 vaccine more widely.

“While we understand that some people disagree with the vaccine programme and may find the ad in poor taste, we have concluded that the ad is unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence on the basis suggested.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Watch: Ministers suggests workers should have a ‘Zoom Christmas party'

10:14 , Daniel Keane

No10 staff insist they ‘followed guidance’ amid row over Christmas party

09:59 , Daniel Keane

Downing Street staff “followed the guidance”, according to a minister, amid reports that a Christmas party contravening social distancing rules was held last December.

Asked whether Boris Johnson had acted “responsibly” by allegedly allowing a Downing Street social to go ahead last year, business minister George Freeman told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Look, I wasn’t there. I’ve been in Government six weeks – I was nowhere near No 10 a year ago.

“I can absolutely assure you that No 10 staff followed the guidance.

“I can’t tell you who was in the room or what happened – I wasn’t there – but I’ve checked before coming on and I’m told very clearly that the guidance was followed.”

After being told there was public frustration at the reports given that many people could not see loved ones this time last year, Mr Freeman said: “I totally understand that people around the country expect that, when we make sacrifices, that we all make them.”

He added: “I can’t get drawn into who was or wasn’t in the room and who was drinking which cocktail. You’ll understand I wasn’t there.”

Pfizer boss says vaccinating children is ‘good idea’

09:43 , Daniel Keane

The boss of Pfizer has said that vaccinating young children is a “good idea” to mitigate the risk of long Covid.

In October, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer jab for five to 11-year-olds.

Dr Bourla said immunising that age group in the UK and Europe would be a very good idea.

“Covid in schools is thriving,” he said.

“This is disturbing, significantly, the educational system, and there are kids that will have severe symptoms.

“So there is no doubt in my mind that the benefits, completely, are in favour of doing it.”

‘Urgent work’ ongoing to understand impact of Omicron

09:27 , Daniel Keane

There is “urgent” work going on in Government to understand the possible impact of the Omicron variant, a minister has said.

Asked on LBC about the progress of the investigation into the new strain, business minister George Freeman said: “Yes, the chief scientist Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty and the team are literally monitoring the data on that.

“A ton of work is being done right now.”

Asked whether they were close to an answer, Mr Freeman replied: “No, I’m not going to make that commitment now.

“It is live, it is in stream, you can imagine how urgent that work is.

“We are looking at the data internationally and we’re looking at the transmission data here in the UK, and we want to then understand how much this variant might change people’s susceptibility to the disease.”

Pfizer boss says jabs will be needed ‘for years to come'

09:16 , Daniel Keane

The boss of Pfizer has said it is likely that Covid vaccines will be needed for years to come.

Dr Albert Bourla told the BBC that regular jabs would be needed to maintain “a very high level of protection” in the population.

It comes after ministers announced a further 114 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be delivered over the next two years.

Dr Bourla said that without vaccines the “fundamental structure of our society would be threatened”.

Larger firms might consider cancelling Xmas parties, says minister

09:05 , Daniel Keane

Larger companies might consider cancelling their staff Christmas parties amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, a business minister has suggested.

George Freeman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Individual businesses, in the end, have to make judgments on what is appropriate internally.

“It slightly depends on the nature of the business. For many small businesses, four or five staff, who are working together every day anyway, gathering to have a drink isn’t a big step up in risk.

“But some companies might normally bring hundreds of people in from around the world to a big party, and they may decide, this year, is that sensible given the pandemic and given where we are?

“In the end, I think business people know how to make those decisions. The Government has set out clear guidance.”

JCVI professor says it is ‘unclear’ whether boosters will be needed every year

08:52 , Daniel Keane

A member of the JCVI has said it is “unclear” whether people will need to get booster jabs every year.

Professor Adam Finn told BBC Breakfast: “It’s hard to say whether we’ll all need boosters indefinitely - it really does depend on how much further this virus can evolve.

“Just as with flu, the flu virus changes every year and we have to reformulate the vaccine and reimmunise people who are at risk.

“So, that could happen with coronavirus but whether it will require everybody to get boosters every year, well I think that’s really unclear at this point in time.”

Working from home is ‘effective containment measure’, says scientist

08:40 , Daniel Keane

Working from home is an “effective measure” which could still be used in England to reduce Covid infections, a scientist has said.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, of the University of Cambridge, told the BBC it is “known to be an effective measure of halving daily close contacts” and said this “might very well be wheeled out”.

Asked which kinds of measures have an impact, he said: “It’s very difficult to say what the precise effect of wearing a mask is.

“There’s a lot of judgment around it. They can be effective at reducing the risk, doesn’t eliminate it and it’s not the only thing that is necessary.

“But, in the end, it is how much people breathe over each other that makes a difference.

“So, we know that being in unventilated rooms fairly close together ups the risk a lot. And that’s why working from home, and being careful with meetings and singing and things like that, are very important.”

Sorrell: Government hasn’t given enough advice on Omicron

08:23 , Daniel Keane

Sir Martin Sorrell said not enough guidance has been given by the Government.

He told Today: “I think we’re not being given enough guidance by the Government as to the simple things we can do.

“I mean, mask-wearing, I think to some extent as we’ve just been discussing, helps and we’re just not implementing it, and people are not taking the measures - I mean going out last night, for example, and seeing what people were doing in restaurants and shops and theatres - they’re really not taking it, I think, seriously enough to heart.

“We don’t know at the moment how far this will spread and it could become extremely difficult in some scenarios, so we should be very cautious at this particular point in time, I think.”

‘Christmas parties cancelled’ after Omicron variant

08:06 , Daniel Keane

There has been a “sharp series of cancellations” in Christmas parties since the emergence of the Omicron variant, according to the executive chairman of a major ad agency.

Sir Martin Sorrell, of S4Capital, said there is “extreme” uncertainty.

Asked if they were cancelling office parties, he told the BBC Radio Four Today programme: “It’s not so much what we’re doing as what we see our clients doing and other people.

“The answer is they are doing that, they are cancelling, (there has) been quite a sharp series of cancellations since this happened just, what, three, four, five days ago.”

Scientists may have identified trigger behind Covid vaccine-induced blood clots

07:51 , Daniel Keane

Scientists believe they may have found the “trigger” behind the extremely rare blood clot complications stemming from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to an international team of researchers from Cardiff and the US, the reaction can be traced to the way the adenovirus used by the vaccine to shuttle the coronavirus’ genetic material into cells binds with a specific protein in the blood, known as platelet factor 4 (PF4).

Researchers think this may spark a chain reaction in the immune system which can culminate in the development of blood clots – a condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Professor Alan Parker, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “VITT only happens in extremely rare cases because a chain of complex events needs to take place to trigger this ultra-rare side effect.

“Our data confirms PF4 can bind to adenoviruses, an important step in unravelling the mechanism underlying VITT. Establishing a mechanism could help to prevent and treat this disorder.

“We hope our findings can be used to better understand the rare side effects of these new vaccines – and potentially to design new and improved vaccines to turn the tide on this global pandemic,” he added.

Breaking: MHRA approves Xevudy drug for Covid treatment

07:30 , Daniel Keane

The monoclonal antibody Xevudy, made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been approved for people in the UK at high risk of developing severe Covid-19,the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.

The treatment was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate infection following a review.

The drug works by binding to the spike protein on the outside of the virus. This in turn prevents the virus from attaching to and entering human cells, so that it cannot replicate in the body.

In a clinical trial, a single dose of the monoclonal antibody was found to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 79 per cent in high-risk adults with symptomatic Covid infection.

Tenth case of Omicron in Scotland ‘has no link to previous infections'

07:25 , Daniel Keane

The tenth case of the Omicron variant identified in Scotland has no direct link to the previous nine cases which were connected to one event, the Scottish Government has said.

Authorities have said the nine cases across Lanarkshire area and Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) identified earlier in the week were connected to an event on November 20.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The individual affected is in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area and while there is no direct link with the event on the 20th November which connected the previous nine cases, investigations are ongoing.

“As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told parliament on Tuesday, it was already suspected that some degree of community transmission of this variant was taking place in Scotland.

“However, there is no indication as yet that transmission of the new variant is either sustained or widespread.”

Around the world

07:12 , Daniel Keane

- The EU-wide rollout of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine version for five- to 11-year-old children will begin Dec 13, one week earlier than previously planned, Germany’s health ministry said

- A senior Botswana health official said 16 of the total 19 cases of the Omicron variant detected in the country were asymptomatic

- South Korea’s daily case numbers rose to a new high on Thursday, as authorities halted quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travellers to curb the spread of the Omicron variant

- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that travel restrictions imposed over Covid that isolate any one country or region were “deeply unfair and punitive”

Morning headlines

07:03 , Daniel Keane

Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live coverage of the Covid pandemic.

Here’s a quick run through of the main headlines overnight:

- Scientists believe they may have found the “trigger” behind the extremely rare blood clot complications stemming from the AstraZeneca vaccine. Researchers believe the reaction can be traced to the way the adenovirus used by the vaccine to shuttle the coronavirus’ genetic material into cells binds with a specific protein in the blood

- Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has said people should avoid “snogging under the mistletoe” over the Christmas holidays. She said kissing should be avoided with “people you don’t already know”

- Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid-19 technical lead at the World Health Organisation (WHO), said more will be known about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant “within days”. The Omicron variant has been reported in 23 countries, according to the WHO.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting