Covid-19: Omicron could cause reinfection and Italian man tries to dodge jab with fake armon December 3, 2021 at 5:34 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

Scientists in South Africa have reported some of the first real-world data indicating that the Omicron variant may evade some of our immunity. They analysed 36,000 suspected reinfections, comparing them across previous waves of the Beta or Delta variant. They found no change in previous waves, but a spike in reinfections since the detection of Omicron. It’s a rapid analysis and not definitive, but it fits with concerns about the mutations the variant has. It’s also not clear what this means for the protection given by vaccines.

File pic of testing for the Omicron variant at Amsterdam's Schipol airport

Image source, Getty Images

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The Conservative Party chairman has urged people to “keep calm and carry on” with their plans for Christmas parties, as he said the Tories do not intend to cancel their celebration for staff. Oliver Dowden said the planned party – “a normal Christmas gathering” – was within the rules, adding that if regulations changed they would make sure they complied. But one Tory MP said ministers were giving “unclear” messages. The government is also facing criticism over No 10 staff breaking rules with a party last December at the height of restrictions.

Boris Johnson at a Christmas market in Downing Street earlier this week

Image source, EPA

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As the Omicron variant drives a fourth wave of infections in South Africa, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding finds there is deep concern at a beachside holiday town in KwaZulu-Natal, a province where only a third of adults are vaccinated. “My problem is the government. We don’t believe in them, or the system,” says one. A community liaison worker says many men have been influenced by false claims on social media that the vaccines will affect sex drive – but she finds some are changing their minds. Read more from Andrew.

Swimmer at Ballito bench in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa - December 2021
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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was confirmed that there was community transmission of the Omicron variant in Scotland, as the number of cases rose by 13 to a total of 29. Six of those were linked to a Steps concert at Glasgow’s Hydro venue on 22 November, one of a number of events now linked to Omicron infections. Ms Sturgeon said cases could be expected to rise “perhaps significantly” over the coming days, but health teams were working to slow the spread. Contact tracers are getting in touch with those who may have been exposed to the Omicron variant, but the Scottish government said the risk to other Steps concert-goers was low.

File pic of Steps in concert at the O2 Arena in London

Image source, Getty Images

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Police in Biella, north-west Italy, are investigating a case of fraud after a man who wanted a Covid pass without getting the jab turned up to his appointment with a fake arm. A nurse told local media that when she rolled up the sleeve of the man in his 50s, she found the skin “rubbery” because he had placed a silicone mould over his real arm. La Repubblica said that a Twitter message which may have been posted by the man referred to a silicone half-body suit on sale at Amazon. “The case borders on the ridiculous,” said a local official, but it was “unacceptable” after all the community had sacrificed in the pandemic.

File pic of vaccine being prepared in Puglia, Italy

Image source, Getty Images

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Graphic showing UK daily coronavirus statistics, including 50,584 reported new cases and 143 reported deaths

The Conservative Party is going ahead, while some other employers have cancelled or scaled back their plans. But what are the rules on Christmas parties this year? Find out in our guide.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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