Tuesday Briefing: Masks are back and more boosters sooner |


In the spotlight: don’t let your guard down, experts warn against Omicron

Hi, I’m Warren Murray with today’s big news.

Ministers are aiming for a return to half a million Covid jabs in the UK per day in an attempt to overtake the Omicron variant. Yesterday, confirmed cases jumped to 11 in England and Scotland. From today, masks will be mandatory on public transport, including airports and train stations, and in shops, including hairdressers and take-out – but not pubs or restaurants. . The NHS is expected to confirm an extension of the vaccination schedule this week after government advisers said all adults should be offered booster shots and recommended waiting just three months before having one instead of six.

More and more countries have imposed travel restrictions on visitors from other parts of the world. Hong Kong has expanded its ban to include non-residents who have visited Australia, Canada, Israel or six European countries in the past 21 days. China has pledged to send 600 million doses of vaccine to Africa. Keep watching our live blog for all developments. Some are using anecdotal reports from South Africa that Omicron may only cause mild illness. But it would be dangerous to assume it’s less dangerous, experts say. Unben Pillay, a general practitioner practicing in Midrand on the outskirts of Johannesburg, said: “We see patients presenting with a dry cough, fever, night sweats and a lot of body pain. People who have been vaccinated tend to do much better. Officials said in the South African town of Tshwane, where Omicron was detected, 87% of hospital admissions were unvaccinated.

This morning in our Lost to the Virus series, Sirin Kale tells the story of super fit John Eyers – triathlete, bodybuilder, mountaineer – who refused the vaccine and espoused conspiracy theories about it. He tested positive for Covid on June 29 and died a month later.

Everything changes under Starmer – Keir Starmer’s surprise reshuffle of his shadow Labor cabinet brings Yvette Cooper back to the forefront as shadow Home Secretary. David Lammy is elevated to Shadow Foreign Secretary, while Lisa Nandy will take on Michael Gove as the Shadow Secretary Upgrade. The reshuffle, which left virtually no managerial posts untouched, is seen in Westminster as an acceleration in the movement of Labor to the center. Starmer’s deputy Angela Rayner was taken aback – speaking as the reshuffle was underway, she said: wait, do that job. The Starmer team believed the time was right, with the Prime Minister under pressure after backbench uprisings and the vaccine’s rebound in the seemingly declining polls.

I just quit my Twitter – Jack Dorsey has stepped down as Twitter boss and will be replaced by CTO Parag Agrawal. Dorsey has been criticized for being the CEO of Twitter and Square, his digital payments company. Dorsey, 45, co-founded the microblogging site in 2006 and posted the world’s first tweet: “Just set up my twttr.” Agrawal, who has been with the company for 10 years, is a 37-year-old Indian immigrant who does not belong to the ranks of famous CEOs. It is a “safe choice that should be viewed favorably by investors,” wrote Angelo Zino, investment analyst.

“Gather them” in Xinjiang – Excerpts from unpublished documents directly link China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang with speeches by Chinese leaders in 2014. The documents – including three speeches by President Xi Jinping – cover security, control of the population and the need to punish the Uyghur population. Some are marked top secret. Xi calls for “a heavy blow” against “violent terrorist activities in Xinjiang” while Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo personally orders officials to “round up all those who should be arrested.” Meanwhile, security officials in China’s Henan Province have set up a surveillance system that they want to use to track journalists and international students among other “suspicious people.”

“Repulsed, altered” – The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was racially discriminated against a senior black official after opening an investigation into his sex life, a labor court ruled. Sonia Warner, a 33-year civil servant who oversaw grants to Nigerian organizations, has been “rejected”, “disowned” or “hijacked” by colleagues, he concluded. The move follows a report that many black, Asian and ethnic minority men working in development for the government say they have experienced prejudice at work. A new hearing has been set for February on any compensation Warner may receive. A spokesperson for FCDO said, “We are committed to being an inclusive employer for our 16,500 colleagues around the world. We do not comment on individual cases.

They multiply – Researchers say they have discovered that clusters of frog cells built to order in the lab can replicate in a different way than plants or animals. Spherical clusters, known as xenobots, can give birth to “offspring” by sweeping up free cells and bringing them together into other clusters like themselves.

A red xenobot in the shape of Pacman next to its offspring, colored green. Photography: Wyss institute.

Xenobots were first announced last year – these “living robots” are made by taking a few thousand cells from frog embryos and assembling them into computer-designed clusters about 1mm in size. It is hoped that such short-lived, self-replicating machines could eventually be developed to perform useful work or, if made from our own cells, perform medical tasks such as removing buildup. of cholesterol in human arteries.

Today in Focus podcast: The Queen has said goodbye

Barbados replaced Queen Elizabeth II with President Sandra Mason on Tuesday – and while some celebrate, others ask if a symbolic change is really enough to accommodate the legacy of colonialism. Michael Safi visits Bridgetown to ask if the country can break free from the history that brought it here – and what Britain owes the people of its former colonies whose ancestors were enslaved.

Today in focus

The queen bade farewell

At lunchtime, read: “Break the cycle of junk food”

From ultra-processed waste to failing supply chains and increasing food poverty, the way the UK feeds itself poses serious problems. Will the government ever act?

Collage illustration of food on plates, delivery trucks, kids kitchen
Illustration: Klawe Rzeczy / The Guardian


Ralf Rangnick has claimed Manchester United can still be successful this season after being confirmed as the club’s interim manager. Postponement is not an option for the European Champions Cup as rugby union is in the front row against the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi were crowned winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or in a scintillating ceremony in Paris. Tiger Woods admitted he would probably never return to professional golf full-time and feared his leg might be amputated as a result of a car accident earlier this year. Twenty-five of golf’s biggest names have pledged to play in the 2022 Saudi Invitational, potentially putting them on a collision course with their home homers.

Irish boxing world champion Katie Taylor spoke to the Guardian about her faith, her family’s difficult journey and why the potential mega-fight with Amanda Serrano will be worthy of making women’s boxing history. The British Horseracing Authority has denied a claim by former coach Charlie Brooks that Chris Watts, the authority’s former integrity assurance manager, quit his post after an ‘Oliver Reed bender’ at Newmarket earlier this year. Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski will be welcome in Britain’s attempt to reach the Davis Cup semi-finals against Germany in Innsbruck. Former England captain Ray Illingworth has revealed he is undergoing cancer treatment. And Lee Elder, the pioneering golfer who broke several of the sport’s color barriers, has passed away at the age of 87.


Lego is giving its 20,000 employees three more days off and a cash bonus after seeing profits rise 140% to £ 700million in the first half of this year, as forced lockdowns boosted sales of the most major toy manufacturer in the world. The Danish company said it had been “an amazing year for the Lego Group and our colleagues have worked incredibly hard.” As Asian markets rebound overnight, the FTSE appears to be opening a fraction while the pound is worth $ 1.332 and € 1.178.

The papers

Our Guardian splash today: “Race to return to 500,000 UK jabs per day as Omicron concern grows”. The photo box goes to the start of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial for allegedly causing young girls to be sexually assaulted by Jeffrey Epstein. The Daily mail said Maxwell, who pleaded not guilty, was described in court as a “predator who served young girls to be abused.”

Front page of the Guardian, Tuesday, November 30, 2021
The Guardian’s front page, Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Metro a “Booster drive to beat Omi” and the is the title of the first page is similar. The Times says it’s a “Scramble to get arm kicks” and oh no it’s another “save Christmas” title in the boosterish Express. Joe Biden might look and sound a bit like daddy’s army in the Telegraph: “Not to panic,” he said of Omicron.

“Rush jab” says it Mirror, and it took me a few seconds to figure out that this was a “rush work” game. The boosters are on the front of the Financial Time too, with Jack Dorsey leaving Twitter and this basement post: “Pressure mounts for ECB policy tightening as German inflation hits 6%” – it’s the European Central Bank, of course, not the England and Wales Cricket Council.

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